Isaiah 7 14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Eddie Robinson is one of the winningest US College football coaches ever, leading Louisiana’s Grambling State University from 1941 to 1997; he is recognized by many college football experts as one of the greatest coaches in history. I read one of his quotes which I believe explained much of his success. “Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you.” Having taken a small college in northern Louisiana and turning it into a perennial powerhouse, and even sending the first black college player to the pros, it sounds like Coach Robinson was able to find a way to get the players to believe in him.
I have noticed in sports that, beyond coaches, there are leaders on the team who have the ability to inspire people just with their presence. Ice hockey is a sport where a goaltender can have a significant impact on an entire team. Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Vladislav Tretiak, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Marty Brodeur, are just a few names of goaltenders who could inspire all the skaters in front of them just by their presence in goal. Professional football players who had the privilege of being led by world class quarterbacks will almost invariably tell you that the entire team would find a way to step up their game just a little bit more when their leader was taking the snaps on the field. There are similar stories in every sport. As Coach Robinson would say, such leaders are able to “[fight] for the hearts and souls of men and [get] them to believe in [them]”.
Since my middle name is “Emanuel” (German form of “Immanuel”), I know its meaning is “God is with us”, but I recently heard a sermon where “Immanuel” was described as the “with us God”. If an incredible coach or athlete can inspire an entire team, can bring them confidence and stir individuals to perform at levels they could not even imagine on their own, how much more can Christ do that in our lives as Christians?
When Jesus came to this earth as a baby in a manger over 2,000 years ago, God himself was coming to earth. John 1: 14 says: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And as a believer today “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians. 2:20)
Jesus is fighting for your heart and soul. Will you relinquish it completely to him or will you continue to carry on your own path? If you choose to recognize who Immanuel is, if you will choose to have a close personal relationship with the “with us God”, he will use you to accomplish more than you could ever dream or imagine. “19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20).
May Immanuel be real to you today and in the year to come.