The cancellation of the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments crushed the hopes and dreams of hundreds of college athletes. But God is in control, He has the power to heal, and His plans are greater than the plans of man.
That was the theme of this weeks’ Huddle Up, which featured a new host and a college-basketball-themed twist.
Nationally-renowned speaker and author Mo Isom, a former LSU soccer goalkeeper, emceed the event Wednesday while her guests were three college basketball star players — Liberty’s Caleb Homesley, Oregon’s Ruthy Hebard, Baylor‘s Freddie Gillespie — and one longtime college basketball coach — Tennessee men’s coach Rick Barnes. The video chat, hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Sports Spectrum, is the third in a series of weekly virtual sports gatherings designed to encourage and challenge athletes, coaches and fans around the world who crave spiritual connection and sports content during this difficult time.
Big thanks to @MoIsom, @get_buckets05, @RuthyHebard24, @freddieg_33 and @RickBarnesUT for sharing your experience and encouragement during FCA's "Huddle Up!" today. We learned a lot from your testimonies! (John 14:6)https://t.co/MjWk5qm6b5#FCAvirtual #HuddleUp
— FCA News (@fcanews) April 8, 2020
Among other topics, this week’s quintet of believers discussed the sorrow caused by the NCAA Tournament cancellations. Hebard, Gillespie and Homesley were all seniors and all three were headed for March Madness.
Gillespie said his first reaction was devastation, but God soon opened his eyes to the pain around him.
“God’s got a plan and it’s not about us,” Gillespie said. “Everyone is going through this. Everyone is hurt.”
For Homesley, who had already recovered from two separate ACL injuries in his career, he said he has become a better person through life’s challenges by holding fast to his faith in Christ.
“I believe truly and wholeheartedly that God throws things in our way for us to get over the hump and become better. … Just keep faith,” he said. “If you don’t have faith, find a way. Ask questions. Ask people.”
Hebard said that her faith in Christ is what has sustained her amidst the cancellations.
“A lot of things can be taken away from you, and one thing is sports,” she said “You never know when you’ll play your last game or your last practice, and if you don’t have anything else you’re leaning on, relying on, it’s going to hurt a lot and it’s going to be really difficult. So having faith, having hope, being able to have a good relationship with God is definitely something you need because then you’ll know that He has you. He has another plan for you that may not be in sports anymore. But you have someone who’s there and who loves you and knows what His plan is for you.”
Barnes said that suffering and sin in the world is real, but God has provided a way out with the gift of the Bible, which is sharper than any two-edged sword.
“There’s a fight going on every day,” Barnes said. “There is spiritual warfare going on every day and if we don’t start with the Word where we are anchored down, where we know that we are walking with the Holy Spirit every single day, this world will get a hold of you in ways that you don’t want it to.”
"Jesus is the way and that’s what matters. Nothing else will help us during this current time but Him. It applies to our life now, and we just have to believe it." – @get_buckets05, senior at Liberty University, All-American basketball player and MVP #FCAvirtual #HuddleUp #FCA100 pic.twitter.com/bHsYN1fT83
— FCA News (@fcanews) April 8, 2020
Although Homesley has had to miss his final NCAA Tournament, God has revealed to him a silver lining.
“I struggle sometimes with finding times just to get quiet,” he said. “I think now, I have a lot of free time on my hands, so I just get to have quiet time with Him — listen to music, listen to the Gospel and just listen to what He’s teaching me today.”
Isom shared what she thought God was up to during the pandemic.
“I believe in this time, Christ is truly establishing His supremacy above all things,” she said. “He’s drawing us as His creations to turn our eyes, turn our hearts, back to the one true God.”
As Isom drew the discussion to a close, she delivered a powerful presentation of the Gospel. She extended to listeners an offer to trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross and the hope that can be found in Him. Barnes closed the video with a prayer.
These Huddle Up gatherings will continue on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. ET, and can be seen on FCA’s YouTube channel.
– Slater, Hasselbeck, Marvin join Huddle Up to discuss identity, Scripture
– Benjamin Watson hosts pro athletes in first virtual Huddle Up with FCA, PAO
– NEW PODCAST: Rick Barnes, Tennessee Men’s Basketball Coach
– Oregon forward Ruthy Hebard’s focus, faith guide her from Fairbanks to Final Four
– NEW PODCAST: Mo Isom, Former LSU Goalkeeper and Bestselling Author
– Liberty upsets Mississippi State for university’s first 1st NCAA Tourney victory