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Grace-full friends reflect love of God | Worship


Last updated 9/30/2014 at Noon

There is a story about a man by the name of Roy Riegels, who had a chance at fame and glory playing football for the University of California on New Year’s Day in 1929.

The Cal Bears were playing Georgia Tech in the Rose Bowl. Near the end of the first half, Georgia Tech fumbled. Riegels picked up the ball and ran 65 yards toward the goal line. The wrong goal line! A teammate tackled him only yards away from scoring for Tech.

With their backs to the wall, Cal made no progress, tried to punt, and suffered a blocked kick. Georgia Tech fell on the ball for a two point safety.

Moments later, the Cal players and coach Nibbs Price filed into the locker room for the halftime talk. Riegels wrapped himself in a blanket, slumped into a corner and wept.

The locker room was quiet that 30 minutes. When the 3 minute warning came, the coach glanced at Riegels and said to the players, “The same team that played the first half will start the second.”

Everyone hustled for the door except Riegels. The coach shouted to him, “Riegels! Get up!”

No movement. The coach walked over and asked kindly, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? I said, ‘The same team that played the first half will start the second.”

Riegels raised his teary, bloodshot eyes and replied, “Coach, I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the U of C. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.”

Coach Price touched Roy’s shoulder, “Roy,” he said, “get up and go on back. The game is only half over.”

Those who watched the game later remarked that no one ever played harder than Roy Riegels did that second half.

When we hear this story, we first think “What a mistake!” And then, “But what a coach!”

Contrary to all expectations, the coach gave his player “grace” – he chose to overlook his failure – as public as it was – and offered him forgiveness, unmerited favor, undeserved kindness.

The coach continued to stand by his player, believing in him, offering him another chance. He didn’t simply write him out of the game plan as other coaches may well have done.

Not every coach would have been as “grace-full” as Nibbs Price, and yet it made all the difference in the way Riegels played the rest of the game.

At one time or another, you and I have all been grateful recipients of grace from those in our lives – it may have been from a coach, a teacher, a family member, a neighbor, a friend, a classmate.

Perhaps we disappointed or failed them in some way. Perhaps we hurt and offended them or we mistreated or neglected them.

Still, they offered their love and friendship. They didn’t give up on us, but continued to accept us – warts and all. They gave us another chance and encouraged us to get back into the game of life.

Someone has said: "Real friends are those who, when you make a fool of yourself, don't think you've done a permanent job."

We are truly blessed if we have friends like this; they reflect the very love of God for us.

To whom can we extend such amazing grace? Who needs our love and friendship? Reach out and share the love, and you will be doubly blessed!


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