To the best of my recollection, it has been a little while now since an octopus has been thrown onto the ice at Little Caesar’s Arena (LCA). Back in the day at The Joe, it seemed like at least one hit the ice each night. I am a patient man, but I think we will begin to see real fruit of the rebuild next season … and, perhaps, even quicker with my beloved Tigers! (Did anyone ever mention that, besides being a patient man, I am also an eternal optimist?)
The eight arms of the octopus, back before my time, represented the eight wins needed to secure a Stanley Cup. Now, to me, it represents opportunity … the opportunity to do exceptional things … the opportunity to be a champion. This is the kind of opportunity that, believe it or not, we all have … even if you have never played a single game of hockey … or can’t even stand on skates, like me!
The past few years I have stepped away from things for a week or two during Lent – as I do regularly every summer for at least 2 weeks. The time away refreshes my batteries incredibly. It also gives me the opportunity to look at the big picture … to consider the exceptional things God is doing, and the even more exceptional things he might have in mind for the future. In many ways, it feels like my arms grow from two to eight in number!
Spending a few days on the road provides great opportunities for meditation and prayer. Add to that days of reading, visiting a special aunt, walking and laying in the sun, and those eight arms can grow mighty long. I know that I can assure each person reading this that I have spent time daily praying for you on this trip. The focus of that prayer this past day was that God open your eyes to see the octopus he has made you to be … the opportunities he is giving you to do exceptional things … the opportunity to be a champion in Christ’s Kingdom.
The truth is, eight arms are not enough for us to reach out and touch all the lives Jesus brings to us to bless … yet how often do we close our eyes to these opportunities, or just miss them because we are so shortsighted? Christ is our champion because of the way he comes to us as we are and in our world, touching us with his love and forgiveness, healing and hope. Though he is the one is patient with us, he summons us to pray, "I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." (Psalm 40.1-3)
Do you see the transformation God seeks to work in us in this prayer? The new song he puts into our mouths reaches out to others with words of encouragement and hope, words of thankfulness and praise. Even while on vacation God has placed before us a family that suddenly lost a father, a student athlete who is accomplishing great things, and a pastor we met sitting alone in a bar in West Virginia (you'll have to ask me about that one). You see,"the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3.9)
Each day my anticipation for what God has in mind in the future grows. It grows because I can see what he is doing in each of you, and how he is placing before each of you the opportunity to do exceptional things. It grows because I see him "setting your feet upon a rock, making your steps secure and putting a new song in your mouth." WOW … When we go to the beach for dinner tonight, I think I am going to look for an octopus!