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The Long Snapper and the Power of Patience

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The annual Super Bowl seems to have devolved into a commercialized enterprise marked more by promoting provocative half-time shows and cutting-edge commercials than broadcasting a championship football game. However, in The Long Snapper, author Jeffrey Marx tells the true life story of one man's struggle to achieve genuine redemption despite the glare of the media spotlight and the glitz of the game.

On December 15, 2003, Brian Kinchen, a thirty-eight-year-old husband, father of four, and seventh-grade Bible teacher received an unexpected phone call from the New England Patriots. They were riding a ten-game winning streak and had a pressing need to find a player who could fill the obscure role of the long snapper before the playoffs began in a few weeks.

Upon receiving this call, a myriad of conflicting emotions raced through Brian's body. Could he get his body back into professional playing shape after being away from the game for three years? Yes, he was elated that he had a shot to play for a team that might actually make it to the Super Bowl, but he had received similar calls and failed to make the final cut. After all, he was no major name athlete.

During his NFL career, Brian remained a workhorse player who stayed in the background. His job as a long snapper was to snap the ball with speed and accuracy. Once he passed the ball off, then he got out of the way. The quarterback, field goal kicker, and others got the glory. No one notices a long snapper unless something goes terribly wrong, and he botches the snap.

Even though Brian made the cut, his dream became a nightmare as he struggled both on and off the field. He realized that in pursuing his childhood dream, he forgot to keep this journey in its proper perspective. Armed with this self-awareness, he recentered himself through prayer and Bible study, as well as the support of his family, friends, fellow teachers, and students.

Here the story took on a fairy tale ending that doesn't seem true—except that this story actually happened. In stereotypical Hollywood fashion, Brian found himself on the field with only seconds left in the Super Bowl. With the pressure mounting and the game on the line, he snapped the ball that resulted in a historic game-winning field goal.

With a championship ring on his finger, Brian achieved status in the eyes of the world. But with all the press and accolades that comes from being an award-winning athlete, Brian found himself contemplating the significance of his Super Bowl ring. He reflected over Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Brian began to realize the difference between the goal he had set for himself and his purpose, which was the reason he was doing these goals.

Here Brian took comfort in the message conveyed in the film Cool Runnings. This movie depicts the unlikely story of the first bobsled team from Jamaica to compete in the Winter Olympics. While the crowds and media scoffed if these tropical amateurs had the goods to compete professionally in a “winter” sport, their coach set them straight. If they're good enough without the gold medal, he explained, then they're good enough with it.

It is a light-hearted movie, but it helped Brian realize something profound. He is the same person in the eyes of his creator whether or not he wears a championship ring. Now, he offers this sage advice to others seeking to achieve their dreams, “If you want to be a person of significance and love, you do not need to seek and obtain the same things so many others are chasing and collecting. You never need to have enough. You only need to look inside yourself to figure out whether or not you are enough.”

Questions for personal reflection, online discussion, or small groups:

• Which Bible verse helps to keep you focused when you're facing a major obstacle?
• How do you discern the difference between your goals and your purpose in life?
• What obstacles prevent you from realizing that you are enough, just as you are?

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