I have two passions in life (that is apart from my family)—following Jesus and Welsh Rugby. One of these passions brings me unbridled joy and a purpose to life, the other brings me ecstatic joy in the moment and a fair bit of disappointment along the way. I do believe that being a Welsh Rugby fan has taught me to really embrace and enjoy those fleeting victorious moments because we never know how long they will last.
At the time of writing this blog, we have recently enjoyed a Summer test series win over South Africa and Argentina—it is the first Summer test series win for Wales in over a decade. However, I am bracing myself for the Autumn test matches later in the year. Could we be successful twice in one calendar year?
Let’s just wait and see!
A couple of days ago I was meeting up with a guy in Cardiff, and we started to talk about building a movement of men across Wales, men who are fully focussed on living well, giving it everything they’ve got, never cheating, never treating others badly. Men who are strong, have integrity and honesty, great husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons, brothers and really great mates that you can rely on too. We talked about having the energy to do all this consistently, to never giving up when it gets tough, and how we both believed that following Jesus gives us that energy that we will always need to do this.
Man, I am so convinced that our world needs all of us to be different from the culture we inhabit. We so need to be men that live with an opposite spirit that constantly puts others first. But this is an incredibly high calling, if you are anything like me you might manage it for a day, a week if you are super disciplined but to be like it ALL the time—that is tough!
The Bible says something like this:
“but you, man of God, run for your life from all of this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.”
(1 Timothy 6:11-12, The Message)
As we continued to talk about becoming this kind of movement, my mate told me something about Richie McCaw, the greatest All Blacks captain of all time. Richie McCaw is one of the most decorated players in the history of the game, there was literally nothing more for him to achieve when it came time to hang up his boots. He was consistently the best, so fully-focussed, so driven, so energetic—the man was a human rugby machine.
But here is what my mate told me: whenever Richie McCaw left the field, whilst all the other players were celebrating their victories, their achievements, their conquests, Richie would take himself to a quiet corner of the changing room. In that quiet space, he would take his journal, turn it to a completely new page and he would write down two words:
No matter whether it was in victory or defeat. No matter if he was on top of the world, or in rugby’s equivalent of the pit. Richie McCaw’s attitude was to leave the past where it belonged, enjoy the moment whenever he could and then start all over again.
I am convinced that this is how Richie McCaw became the best leader that rugby has ever had. He never lived his playing career in his past achievements or failures, he always pushed on to the goals that lay ahead and he did this consistently, throughout his career.
There are so many life lessons in this. So many of us are struggling to find that new, clean page in the story of our lives. We look over our shoulder, either to constantly relive better moments from our past, or to regret so many of the twists and turns our lives have taken over the years.
But here is the incredible deal, the great news of Jesus is that we do get to turn to a new, clean page and Jesus writes ‘Start Again’. He writes it in his own blood and says to each of us— ‘the past has gone; your future is in my hands now, let’s go live it together!’
This is literally the only way to live our lives well, and this is the way, together, we will build a movement of mighty men in this nation. Men committed to following Jesus, knowing that he is their energy to live so differently, to live so much better, to make a massive difference to everyone around us and to do it consistently.
In Wales we have a saying when we see a rugby player like Richie McCaw. Whether you are a Welsh speaker or not, you know this phrase: Chwarae Teg—fair play. Over years, I have said Chwarae Teg to Richie McCaw many, many times.
And to you, if you can start that brand-new page with Jesus, letting him write ‘Start Again’ and you can keep doing this every day for the rest of your life—I say to you too, Chwarae Teg—fair play.
“If I fail I will not give up. He never gives up on me!”
The Code XII
Image Credit: World Rugby