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Coach Gess Gameday Devotion - Game 6 vs. Oconee County

Jonathan Gess

It’s GAME DAY!

Tonight we play Oconee County at home. It is our first region game. Oconee County has been one of the top teams in AAA for the past few years. Can we compete with the top teams in AAA? We will find out tonight! And it’s Homecoming. You should come and just make a night of it.  Our Volleyball team has Senior Night with games at 4 and 5 and then football at 7:30. 

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.” – Proverbs 21:31

Ever since I got here in March, we have been working hard just so we can step on the field and compete with teams like Oconee County. They played in the AAA State Championship in 2019 and 2020. They are an elite program in AAA. Hebron has been a mid-level program in single A in recent years. We got moved to AAA because of the multiplier GHSA applied to private schools and city schools. Our goal should be to be a relevant single A or AA program since we are a small school. BUT…we got moved to AAA. 

We had a few options about our new classification and our new region. 1.) We could sit around and whine and complain about our situation and circumstances. 2.) Hebron could have also chosen to leave the GHSA (Georgia High School Association) and go to the all private school league GISA (Georgia Independent School Association) 3.) Go with the hand we have been dealt…roll up our sleeves and get to work! 

Hebron chose #3 before I even got here. I probably wouldn’t be here if they had chosen 1 or 2…and they probably would have never wanted me to come coach had they chosen 1 or 2. The fact that our administration, led by our Head of School, Dr. Taylor, and our Athletic Director, Taylor Davis, chose option 3, spoke volumes to me about their vision of where we can take our school and athletic programs.

We embraced the challenge and got to work. It was never about Oconee County or any other AAA team. It was about us and putting in the work necessary each and everyday to become the very best we could become. We put our head down and went to work starting in March just to be able to compete with the best. Can we? Are we ready? We are about to find out tonight against one of the best!!

If you have noticed I always sign off these Game Day Devotionals with Proverbs 21:31. It tells us that the horse is made ready for the day of battle. That means we are in charge and responsible for our preparation. God has given us responsibility and ownership of the WORK. However, the VICTORY belongs to the Lord.

This does not mean that God is always going to give us victory. This is acknowledging the fact that God is in control and the final outcome is in his hands. God is Sovereign which means he is in control. When we say the victory belongs to the Lord we are glorifying God in submitting to his total authority of all situations and circumstances. This mindset keeps us humble in victory and gracious in defeat. It keeps God at the center of all we do. It centers our minds on our dependence upon God. 

People ask me all the time: “Are we going to win?” If I knew the answer I imagine we wouldn’t even play. The truth is we have no clue if we are going to win or lose. What I do know is we are going to work hard and prepare to the best of our ability. We are going to work hard to control the variables that we have been given control over. I don’t know if we are going to win but I do know we are going to work. 

People love to sit around and pontificate about what will happen. Then they love to sit around and discuss what happened. There are people who make millions of dollars talking about what might happen and what happened. And it is all just talk…no one has a clue. We have to work and then we have to go compete. Work hard and see what happens. 

Last night I was driving home and I passed by a new Raising Cane’s Chicken Tenders restaurant going up. There is already a Magoo’s right beside the school and then there is a Magoo’s right near my house. I had this thought: “Everyone eats chicken…where do all these chickens come from? There must be like 1 trillion chickens getting killed everyday so we can eat chicken. But I don’t know where one chicken is.” 

Then I started thinking about the farmer. A farmer can work his tail off cultivating the land and making everything perfect. But if the Lord doesn’t send the rain or there cannot be water found to water the crops it doesn’t matter how much work the farmer did or how much he knows…nothing is going to grow without the rain. Water is God given. No rain…no crops.

No rain…no crops…no chickens. We need rain. God sends the rain…the victory belongs to the Lord. 

With success in life there is great danger. We begin to think the victory is in our hands. We begin to think we are the masters of our own fate. Instead of looking and pondering at what God has done we begin to look and think about what we have done. We become prideful and arrogant. We become fools. We must constantly remind ourselves: “The victory belongs to the Lord.” 

I always think about amazing athletes like Lebron James when I think of this verse. Lebron probably thinks he worked himself into being the best. I am sure he worked really hard. But if was 6 feet tall and not 6’9 we wouldn’t even know his name. If he was born in another country we wouldn’t even know who he is. He had no control over his height, his athletic ability, and where he was born. But all of those things came together and he has become one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He might think he is self made.  But the truth is all he has done is maximize the ability God has given him and then he was born in the right place at the right time. He would be wise to give all the glory to God. 

Another example is Tom Brady. God gave Tom Brady an amazing mind and amazing accuracy with the football.  Another amazing thing God gave Tom Brady is a brain and body that function simultaneously. He sees and his body/arm reacts. For most people there is a slight hesitation or slower release of the ball. Yes…Brady has worked his tail off. But God gave him this amazing ability and he was born at the perfect time for this ability to flourish. All he did is cultivate the talent God gave him and take advantage of the time and age and country in which he was born. He would be wise to give God the glory.

The greatest of his day was King David. King David was more famous and fierce than Lebron James and Tom Brady. He was a Warrior King. Psalm 18 is King David attributing all of his attributes to God. For example: 

“He has made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze…You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip…for you equipped me with strength for battle.” 

This language acknowledges that God is in control. With attributing all his success to God and the fact that God even controls him bending the bow of bronze he glorifies God….the victory belongs to God.

The ultimate victory you and I have no control over is Jesus Christ coming to die on the cross for our sins. We all stand guilty and defeated. We have sinned against God and have rebelled against God and his Lordship. We have lost and the punishment is death and hell. We are the great losers. Death will swallow both you and me. We are all guilty before the God of Creation. BUT GOD…in his mercy and grace sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. And in his death and resurrection…his victory over sin and death…He has given us the opportunity for salvation. He has given us victory. Will we receive this victory in and through Jesus Christ? The same thing that causes us not to glorify God in our earthly victories–PRIDE–this also prevents us from receiving the greatest gift of all time: eternal life.  Today, will we humble ourselves and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? May we die to ourselves and live a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. In Christ is Victory…the VICTORY belongs to the Lord!

IT’S TIME TO GO PLAY!!!!

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” – Proverbs 21:31

Wholly for Christ,

– Coach Gess