“Win!  Win!  Win!  Do you understand?  You are playing like idiots.  You are playing like little girls.  There is nothing that matters except to win!”

                A middle-aged, paunchy coach screamed at his team of ten year old boys.  “Winning is all.”

                I grew up as a son-of-a-coach.  I was accustomed to driven competitors.  My dad epitomized a hard driving coach.  Tough.  Italian.  

                However.

                Coach Leibert was an encourager.  Particularly in the middle of athletic battles. 

At the age of 13, he made me one of his track team ‘managers’.  I had the privilege of  watching my dad in action.  When the team was struggling in competition, he was at his best: moving from athlete to athlete, checking on an ankle wrap, making sure water was consumed, explaining an important strategy to a sprinter or to a relay team; laughing, lifting, and loving.  Pushing, prodding, and persuading.

In 1971, he was in the race for the Michigan state track championship for 5A schools (the largest high schools, at the time).  The whole thing came down to the mile relay.  The last event.  We started strong, but the third leg man got trapped and couldn’t break out, leaving the anchor to make up the difference.  The anchor ran like the wind, but came up a few feet short.  Our team lost the championship by ½ point.  My Dad never got that close to a track championship, again.  He swallowed that bitter pill with humor.  He never yipped at the team members, never looked back, never scolded or pouted. 

“Thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Co 15:57

I loved Dad more for his response to the ‘loss’ than for his smiles at hundreds of wins (I got to see him inducted into the Michigan Hall of Fame for high school coaches in 2010). 

The world sees the Cross of Christ as a massive failure.  A joke.  A disgrace.  A loss.

I see Victory in Jesus at the Cross, where He paid the price for my losses, my sins, my failures.  Our losses.  Our sins.  Our failures.

His loss.  Our victory.

Win!  Win!  Win! 

In Christ alone.

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