I have loved hockey all my life. As a 7-year old boy, I remember watching Hockey Night in Canada on CBC TV every Saturday night. It was a real ritual in our household. The TV would go on at 5 pm and the countdown to the Toronto Maple Leaf game began. By game time, I was nervous and totally focused. My favourite player was Frank Mahovlich.
I have watched a lot of Toronto Maple Leaf and Detroit Red Wing games over the years. I’ve also watched and listened to many Windsor Spitfire games. In the late 1990s’, I remember going to a Windsor Spitfires/Sudbury Wolves game at the Old Barn, before Windsor built the new WFCU Hockey Arena. The Wolves had a player by the name of Mike Fisher. He was the best player on the ice.
The Testimony of Mike Fisher
He eventually was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 2nd round of the NHL Draft. Fisher went on to play 17 seasons with the Ottawa Senators and the Nashville Predators. He just retired this past summer. David Poile, the General Manager of the Nashville Predators, said this about Mike: “He plays all season like it’s the playoffs.”
Mike has always been known to be a good teammate and a very coachable player. Barry Trotz, who use to coach Mike in Nashville, and is presently the head coach of the Washington Capitals, says that “(Mike) plays hard. He plays for keeps. He’s a hockey player. He’s a guy that cares; a guy that understands life. His lot in life is not just to be an NHL hockey player but a lot more.” Mike is not only known as a hockey player, but he is also an unashamed follower of Jesus Christ and is the husband of American country singer Carrie Underwood. He is also the father of a young son, Isaiah.
His decision to retire this past summer was impacted by his relationship with the Lord as well as his family. He really sought peace and direction from the Lord to determine if it was time to retire after a long career in the NHL.
Mike has always been mindful that his calling from the Lord included serving Him as a professional hockey player. “I have dedicated my God-given talents to serve Him. I bring all I have to every game making the most of my ability. I play with confidence and know that God is in control.” Mike grew up in a Christian family in Peterborough, Ontario.
As strong Christian people, my parents had a great influence on me. We faithfully attended church and Bible times after meals were a big part of family life. While I may have preferred to be outside playing hockey, these brief devotional times stressed to me that a relationship with the Lord was more important than hockey.
Mike’s faith as a young professional athlete was tested as he began to experience success and started to live his dream as an NHL player. Thankfully, the Lord brought other Christians in his path to steer him in the ways of Jesus.“When I left home to play junior hockey I struggled in my faith. After turning pro with the Senators, I was impacted by the team chapel program and friends who encouraged me to get into the Word. I developed a hunger for what it’s like to follow Christ. It was a gradual heart change.”
Living Water That Truly Satisfies
Mike was challenged by Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-25: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Regarding these words of Jesus, Mike comments:
I remember thinking that I had gained the whole world. I was living my dream, but I felt like I was losing my soul in the process. I made a choice. I rededicated my life to the Lord. My faith became a personal walk with Jesus. When the Holy Spirit works in your life it becomes real to you. When this happens there is nothing better. I am still learning and growing and enjoying the journey.
I think Mike’s testimony is a great example of St. Augustine’s words that “our human hearts are restless until we find our rest in the Lord.” We have a God-shaped vacuum in the center of our being that only the Lord can fill. Fame, fortune and beautiful women are poor god-substitutes. They leave us anxious and dissatisfied in the long-run. Jeremiah calls them leaky cisterns that cannot hold water (Jeremiah 2:13).
In John 7:37b,38 Jesus cried out with these words: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”. Jesus said these words during the Feast of Tabernacles, an annual festival in which the Israelites celebrated and remembered God’s provision of sweet bread (manna) and water in their 40-year desert wanderings.
As we journey through this life, we will hit stretches in which it seems like we are in a desert and our souls and spirits become parched. Let us heed Jesus’ words and the testimony of Mike Fisher. Let us look to the Lord and to other fellow travelers on the way of Jesus to strengthen us and direct us in the right path. We won’t be disappointed.
QOTD: Are you looking to Jesus for your living water or are you building your own cisterns?