Coach Werdal passes out equipment to G.T. Gunhus to start the 1958 season.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but facing one’s fear,” said Coach Werdal. 

I was in his office shortly after he had told us football players to turn in our pads if we were going to play fearfully. He said fearful players have a greater risk of injury and have a negative influence on the team’s spirit. 

I went to admit that I was often fearful. That was true in other areas in addition to messing up on the football field. That is when he described courage as facing fear, not the absence of fear. 

I have thought about Coach’s statement in many different situations these 55 years since I was on the Hillcrest team.  I occasionally think of his words as I watch our Comets on the gridiron.

We miss the best of life because of fear.  Like Adam, who admitted, “I was afraid …so I hid,” we even hide from our Creator Redeemer!

Jesus, our Savior, faced an infinitely more dangerous opponent than any football team. In facing Satan who was determined to destroy Him, Scripture says that Jesus entered the conflict by looking forward to the joy set before Him. 

Joel Egge poses for the yearbook in his senior season, 1959.

Jesus knew the suffering He would endure and the death He would experience, but He faced His future with something greater than courage. He was on God’s mission to win freedom for us being held captive by Satan, sin, and death. He looked forward to that outcome!

The joy He saw, of people like us freely enjoying God, receiving and sharing His blessings, and living with Him eternally, caused Him to “endure the cross” and “scorn its shame.”  (see Hebrews 12:2) 

My desire for you, and for our Hillcrest students, is that we face tomorrow, not with self-generated courage, but carried by the joy Jesus won for us. 

Rejoice that Lord Jesus will walk with you each tomorrow until He welcomes you into the eternal today forever captivating you with the joyous fullness of life!

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace, Over all victorious in its bright increase.
— Frances Havergal

Comment