Miracle on Ice: Spiritual Lessons Learned From Ice Hockey

I’m a huge hockey fan; I love the sport.  Throughout my life hockey has helped me to understand God and the Bible.  I like seeing professional players (just like pastors) at the top of the game, but I also enjoy seeing the six-year-old get their first goal (new believers).  I never fully understood the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) till I applied it to ice hockey.   Breastplate is very similar to shoulder pads with chest protector.  Fitted feet—your skates have to fit just right.  Not only is a helmet of salvation required, but don’t forget the shield and face mask.  Instead of a sword I understood the stick as an offensive piece of equipment.  The following are some more concepts that made the Biblical lessons more easily comprehended:

You have to practice and go over the basics.  (Philippians 4:9, Acts 17:11)  Reading the Bible on a daily basis will help to build those basic Christian values.  Also there are many other ways to reinforce and practice basic doctrine—Sunday school, Bible studies, worship services, etc.  It is important to constantly refresh and remind yourself of the Gospel message.

Surround yourself with good players.  (Proverbs 12:26, 13:20)  Every time I leave church I feel lifted up.  Everyone is so positive, supportive, and loving.  We have a Saturday morning men’s breakfast where is actually feels like a teammates laughing and encouraging each other.

Get into position and be ready.  Five players are always moving and you can’t stand still.  (Luke 21:36, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Corinthians 16:13)  Be ready to give you testimony and share the Gospel message.  Life is constantly moving and changing, it is important to anticipate change and responses and be ready to be a good witness.

Pass the puck.  Be a playmaker.  Help the people around you; make them better.  Whether you get the assist or the goal, it doesn’t matter.  You can’t always do everything yourself.  Give someone else the opportunity to score.  Focus on winning the game, not on yourself.  (Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 13:16, John 15:12-13, Luke 6:38)  Sometimes you plant the seed and someone else brings that individual to God.   Parents may spend years teaching their children, but it is the Sunday school teacher that finally gets through to them.  It is nice to score and be recognized, but ultimately the glory belongs to God.

Sometimes you have to get physical.  Checking is part of the game.  You have to keep up your strength.  (Ephesians 6:10, Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 118:14, Habakkuk 3:19, Matthew 21:12)   It is hard to be productive when you are sick and tired.  Basic nutrition and care is essential.  Get your rest in and watch your diet.  As far as getting physical, sometimes it is necessary to flip some tables (Matthew 21:12).

There is more than one way to score.  (Ecclesiastes 3:4, 1 Peter 3:15, 2 Corinthians 5:20)  The same shot or tactic doesn’t always work.  When you ask people for their testimonies, most of them are very different.  Be prepared to alter your approach.  Sometimes it may take a different person, message or language to reach people.

Support each other.  After making a great play, it feels good to be acknowledged by fellow players.  (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24-25, Ephesians 4:29, Romans 14:19, 1 Corinthians 14:26)  Sometimes a little encouragement goes a long way.  Don’t be afraid to tell someone they did a good job and how it made an impact in your life.

Skating is a key skill involving balance, stopping, gliding, crossover, etc.  You have to develop your skills and stay the course to be effective.  (2 Samuel 22:37, Proverbs 4:11-13, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Acts 17:11)  You can’t expect to get better when you stop practicing and learning.  Have a daily routine where you spend time with God and in your Bible.

Falling down is part of the game.  But you need to get back up and maintain your balance.  Most players have to have the stick in front of them to maintain their balance.  (Ecclesiastes 4:10, 9:10, Proverbs 24:16, 2 Timothy 4:7)  Falling down is actually a good sign.  It means you are trying as hard as you can.  It is good to know you limits.  Sometimes you may exceed those limits, but that is better than not pushing yourself.

Catch your breath.  Often you have to rest.  Don’t burn yourself out.  It is okay to sprint and go all out, but make sure you take a quick shift and sit on the bench.  (Psalm 4:8, 23:2-3, Mark 6:31, Matthew 11:28-30)  It is common to have a teacher rotation for Sunday school.  Someone may be willing to teach every Sunday for 30 years, but don’t burn them out.  A little vacation may bring them back more motivated and rejuvenated.

Play by the rules and behave.  Play a good game and avoid penalties.  (Deut. 6:6-7, 30:16, Gal. 5:14, 2 Timothy 3:16)  Walk in the ways of the Lord.   Sometimes children say that the word Bible stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  These instructions are the rules that you should follow to be a good example and to have a blessed life.

Avoid “cheap shots”—some players play dirty and slash the legs, jab at the ribs, etc.  Don’t retaliate.  Don’t lower yourself to their game.  (Romans 12:1-2, 12:19, Philippians 4:8, Titus 2:12, 2 Timothy 3:1-5)  Focus on God’s way and don’t be conformed to the worldly desires.  Remember the breastplate of righteousness.

Don’t be intimidated or discouraged by the other team.  (Psalm 34:17-19, 55:22, 147:3, Isiah 40:31, 41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 11:28, Galatians 6:9)  There will definitely be tough times.  Be strong and courageous.  (Joshua 1:1-9)  Play to the end of the game; coaches hate it when you quit trying before the game is over (2 Tim. 4:6-7).

Get in the game and be a participant.  Winning isn’t as important as making an impact.  (Colossians 3:23, Proverbs 12:24, Romans 12:11-12)  Work heartily for God (1 Tim. 4:10).  Don’t be a benchwarmer; don’t be lazy.  The effort will be rewarded no matter what the outcome is.

Your jersey has a team logo on the front and your name on the back.  Don’t disgrace your team or yourself.  Take pride in who you are and who you support.  (Matthew 12:33-37, Colossians 1:10-11, Deuteronomy 8:6, Romans 13:13, Luke 10:27, 1 John 1:6-7)  Walk in the Lord.  Be proud of being on God’s team.  My baseball hat says, ONE HOPE on it.  Seeing people’s eyes glance toward it, is all I need to see to know they are thinking about it.  It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference.

Be professional.  Don’t gloat or brag when you win or score.  Maintain a good reputation.  (Proverbs 24:17, Obadiah 1:12-13, Jeremiah 9:23-24, 1 Corinthians 3:21, Titus 2:7-8)  If a non-believer falls, there is no reason to rejoice.  That should be seen as an opportunity to help, to raise them up and possibly to witness to them.  Show yourself as an excellent example.

Listen to the coach.  (James 1:19, 1:22, Proverbs 16:20, Matthew 7:24, 1 Timothy 4:10, Colossians 3:23-24)  Sometimes you think you know what is best.  Often the ultimate coach has a perfect understanding of the situation.  We may hear the Word, but we may not really be listening and applying what we heard.  Often after church services, I hear people say, the pastor’s sermon seemed to be for me.  You can tell they were listening.

As a youth, I got in trouble with one of my Sunday school teachers.  She asked why I missed one day.  I told her I had a big hockey tournament.  She asked me what was more important—God or hockey.  My reply was that God was a hockey player and he understood.  God is everywhere and He can even use hockey to show his love and provide us with lessons of life.


Original Artwork by Jessica Lenze

Author:  Tim Hibsman