By Dan Duddy
Head Football Coach NJ
I was driving along today and for some reason I remembered something that happened when I was about 19 years old. That was 33 years ago for me. I mean flashbacks happen all the time, but it became so connected to the present, and some pretty freaky revelations came from it.
I had been troubled with something at that age which is really made for another blog in itself. But the quick version is that I was suffering like never before in my life with “post-high school football superstar now in college and nobody knows me” syndrome,
Otherwise known as “PHSFSNCNKM.”
Just kidding of course about the syndrome initials, but you get the point. I was in serious pain.
I had gone to see my father several times and he was giving me the very best advice that a non-athlete, high school dropout could. Don’t get me wrong, he is a man’s man, he lied about his age to go to war for his country rather than finish high school, almost losing his right leg doing so. I don’t know of too many men that can match the character of our World War II vets.
I went to see my ex-high school football coach and he gave me general advice, like you know, “you just need to get re-acquainted with yourself on new terms”, “just take it slow, it happens to everybody” and so on.
I went home to tell my father and he said “That guy is ‘stealing my thunder!’”.
In case you need help interpreting “Jersey City Tough Guy” this means “I love you and I’ve been telling you the same thing, so what’s wrong with me?”
Yes, dad was giving me the same messages all along. Many of us coaches are asked by our very own player’s father to talk to their sons, often saying the very same things, but our athletes give much more intense attention to us. But that too is another blog of which I look forward to writing.
But this is why I write to you today:
My football program’s athletes’ operative team nickname is the “Sons of Thunder”. Its meaning until this revelation was simply about imitating the manliness of our Lord’s two apostles James and John who HE gave that title to for their feistiness and desire to jump out and fight, which is what we want our young men to do, to have a mission based on the satisfaction of God’s will and be willing to die for it.
But in this case my dad’s “Thunder” was in fact his desire to have a positive impact on me, give me something to really live my life with as best as he could, and maybe give him thanks for it. Not by saying “thanks”, he wouldn’t stand for that mushy stuff, but by living happily and at ease was thanks enough for him. To live strongly and forward without doubt and suffering is what he wanted. And if it came from his intervention, wow, that would make his life and give him the desire to even give more to me.
How many times are we stealing God’s Thunder? I am a son of my earthly father’s thunder from here on in. I have come to see his thunder in my life more so recently and I need to tell him that before he dies as he is 84 years old and not well.
God’s Thunder is “manhood” done His way, via His Truths. It is intended to be sent to His world through his fathers and leaders, then to the sons and athletes in our care.
I want my sons and athletes to be products of my works, an imperfect thunder that is just a mere burp compared to the divinity of God’s Thunder.
We steal God’s Thunder every time we give ourselves credit for something we have accomplished with the gifts he gave us. Like my passion for writing to you. That passion is truly a gift from Him. It is His Thunder.
How much do we dislike the gloating of the football player who dances and pounds his chest in the end zone after a touchdown after he has put God’s athletic gifts to him on display? How pleased are we on the other hand when the athlete points his finger to the sky, maybe drops to his knee for a moment and then gently hands the ball to the referee?
Is our Father in Heaven saying to us at times in our lives “Hey you are stealing my thunder!” Or is he saying to us, “You’re welcome son, I have lots more thunder for you to come”.
I believe that when we give thanks, and as men we lead our athletes to give thanks, we are given by God a part in a very manly storm, one that will take on all of our adversaries, temptations, weaknesses and enemies.
We are all sons of His Thunder, and as fathers and coaches here on earth, we must share His Thunder through our very selves and lead sons and athletes to in fact become Sons of Thunder themselves, always giving thanks for being a part of His wonderful storm to true manhood.
The next time we hear thunder from the sky, maybe it will have a different meaning. I know it will for me, a thankful father and coach.