|1972 - Mini-Rugby in deepest Gloucestershire|
When I rediscovered this old picture, I tried to remember the names from way back, but regrettably the decades had dulled my memory. However, despite not being able to remember all of the names, I can remember running around in the mud and some of my very early games, as if they were yesterday. Looking back they were great days, but a far cry from today's fast paced, professional game. Check out those old leather rugby balls - if it rained, or the pitch was muddy, they would get heavier and heavier as the game progressed. But that was then, not now. Its good to look back, but life is in the now and in the days that lie ahead.
My speed and fitness levels have dropped since those days in the early 1970s (only marginally you understand). But one thing hasn't changed - my interest in the sport and passion for the game. I can still throw a mean spin pass, make a tackle and recently, in a passing game with a group of kids, I made a pretty good side-step around a friend, who shall remain nameless, but is a Fijian international (you know who you are). Passion still enables you to engage, even though your circumstances, experience or location may have changed.
If you have a passion for something, it can be a powerful motivator and that passion and motivation combined can be a great sustainer. Recently, I have been reading about a man called Caleb. The bible describes him as a man with faith and a man with a never give up spirit. His sense of vision allowed him to catch a glimpse of what the future could look like. 45 years later, he could stand on the hills he had only seen from a distance and call them home. The vision had become a reality, through passion, persistence and, there's no avoiding it, some pain too - because it took graft and effort. But through it all he, never lost sight of what God had showed him all those years ago - until the day he could stand on those hill tops. What kind of a future have you seen?
It seems today, in a fast paced, media driven world, that to delay gratification is a sign of weakness or an absence of "go get". There are some positives in living in and enjoying the "now" moment, otherwise the journey would be dull. But, no matter how quickly we may want to force the pace, there are some things that require time, commitment, passion, persistence and sometimes breaking through the pain barrier. Relationships take time to grow, develop and mature. Lets not be so professional with people that we forget to take time to invest in them.
I had little idea when that photograph was taken, where life would lead me. I can look back with gratitude, from a place I can call home, with a great family, with a faith that is as strong today as the day when I was first gripped by it and Gods compassion toward me.
However, I have discovered that, no matter how far you have travelled, there are still distant hills to be taken, still things to be done, still struggles to win through, still amazing things to see and experience. When others had fallen by the wayside, when others had given up or retired, Caleb was able say "give me this hill country". It doesnt matter when your journey started - why not let God give you a glimpse of a bright future and start on the journey to it today...