They call the winning goal I scored in the last game of the 1972 Canada/Russia hockey series ‘The Goal of the Century.’ I still get a warm feeling when I think about it.
Fear is one of the best motivators, and I was very afraid that I would be part of the team that lost to the Russians. Canada is not a big nation, but hockey is our game. Everyone on the team felt a responsibility to win. I had confidence that our team was better than the Russians, but it never entered my mind that it would be me that scored that last goal. It certainly gave me a stature that I would not have had without it. I wish I could have handled things a little better at that point, been more mature. If I had a spiritual dimension to my life at the time, I know I would have.
Becoming a star
Back then, I had fulfilled most of my boyhood dreams, and I knew I was a very fortunate and blessed individual. Yet there was a restlessness, a discontentment in the centre of my being that I could not ignore. I was angry, bitter and frustrated, and there were things about my life that I didn’t know how to handle. Things were not going well with the Maple Leafs, the team I was playing on, and I was having a lot of conflicts with the owner. Here I was playing in the NHL, doing something that I had always strived for, but I had become more bitter and angry than I had ever been in my life.
So I started drinking as a way to soothe the pain. I think if you are frustrated and angry, you look for a way out. You get with the boys and you try to ‘make merry,’ but you wake up the next morning and it’s there again.
Fortunately, a friend encouraged me to examine the claims of Jesus. He told me that I hadn’t taken care of my soul and had never really looked at what it was on the inside. That made sense to me, so I started to read the Bible and look into Jesus. Jesus claimed to be God, and He said He loved me and wanted to give me eternal life. After a two-year search, I became convinced He loved me and wanted me to get to know Him.
A big decision
However, it was a real struggle for me to become a Christian for a number of reasons. First, I had always prided myself in being a self-made man. I was used to being in control of my life. I was also afraid of what my friends would think. Third, I still looked at Christianity’s ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ and thought that it was so narrow. How could I be a ‘man’s man’ and a Christian, I thought. I was worried that I would have to give up too much. Finally, I read in the Bible that if I really loved God I wouldn’t be afraid to tell others about Him. But if I became a Christian I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. That led to a lot of frustration, because I was not able to step over the line.
One day I just couldn’t fight it any longer. I threw all my fears aside and I said to God: ‘I am fearful, and I don’t want to tell anyone about this.’ And then I gave my life to the Lord.
Since that day, I have never been the same. God has had a positive impact in every area of my life. Most importantly, He has taken away my anger and bitterness. My life certainly hasn’t been trouble-free. One of the most challenging times in my life was when my wife was in the hospital and we thought we were going to lose her. I was mad at God, but I realized that night that life is a gift from God, and I decided right then to place everything in my life in His hands. He had proven Himself to me over the years with His faithfulness, and I knew that I had no choice but to surrender my life to Him. Now the inner quietness, contentment and peace I experience on a daily basis assures me that His promise to love and care for me is true and real. And best of all, I look forward to spending eternity with Him.
Is this the life for me?
Take a look at your life. How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new.What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?
Living with hope
If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.
If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.