Hockey Sticks

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

The other night i had a dream. (Yeah, another blog post about a dream, but this one contains no 70’s musical references.)

In this one, i was picking up limbs at the house i grew up in in Northeast Dallas. The house is down in a valley and had a lot of tall trees back then; several pecans and a huge cottonwood in the backyard that rained down that annoying cotton stuff on the whole neighborhood. In the dream, i was picking up limbs alone in the front yard, gathering them up for the bulk trash pickup.

hqdefaultIn the city we had a truck that came by once a month to pick up large items, and brush. Out here where we live now, we just burn all that stuff in a bonfire, but they frown on that sort of thing in the city.

In the dream, along with of all the tree limbs were five or six old hockey sticks.

Now, a little back story is necessary here. I don’t play hockey. I never played hockey. I have never even ice skated at all. Something about seeing those thin little blades, and assuming my ankles would snap like twigs if i tried to stand on them got it scratched off the list of things i wanted to try very early in life.

Despite being a life-long non-skater, and in spite of the fact that i haven’t been to, or even watched a game on TV in years, i do have a hockey stick. An autographed one.

Back when i was a kid, my dad worked in the mailroom of a finance company. One of the other men there had some sort of side job with the Dallas Black Hawks, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Black Hawks of the NHL. They played in the old State Fair Coliseum, an arena filled on game night with so much cigarette smoke that it would make executives at RJ Reynolds queasy.

When i was in the second or third grade, my dad starting getting us tickets to see games. The Central Hockey League basically existed for guys who never made the big time to finish out their careers drawing a check in the minors, but mostly to polish their fists on each other’s faces. Every game had a fight or two…or ten. There were only six teams in the league, and that much familiarity breeds a lot of contempt in sports. They mixed a little hockey in with the fighting, but the fisticuffs were the main draw for the chain smoking fans in the Coliseum.

My dad’s co-worker also got me and my friend from school a couple of pucks that had flown over the glass in practice, and got us each a hockey stick autographed by JP LeBlanc and Oscar Gaudet. You don’t know them, but in my 10 year old world, it might as well have been Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr. (If you don’t follow hockey, they’re two of the all-time greats. My hockey stick signers are some guys that only old-time Dallas hockey fans would remember.) We also got an autographed picture of the goalie, Kenny Somebody.

So in my dream, hockey sticks are mixed in with the tree limbs and i’m taking them all to the street.

I’m no Daniel, but it doesn’t take an Old Testament dream interpreting genius to see the metaphor. I have no use for hockey sticks, so i was getting rid of them.

So, what else is cluttering up my life that i need to get rid of?

What else is cluttering up your life that you need to get rid of?

Maybe it’s something physical. I will admit to having some hoarding tendencies…i still have the stick autographed by two career minor leaguers in my home office, for cryin’ out loud. (In my defense, when my friend Brad came to my fiftieth birthday party, after not seeing each other for years, one of the first things he asked was ‘do you still have your stick?’ He had held on to his, as well.) We have a storage shed mostly full of my stuff that i’m going to go through and possibly get rid of…someday. Some of it has some value, but a lot of it is just (it pains me to say it) junk.

But maybe it’s something else altogether. Maybe your ‘hockey stick’ is a dependency, an addiction, a habit…something cluttering up your life that goes much deeper than the physical. Something you’re having a hard time letting go of.

Are there things in your life that God wants you to take to the curb?

In Exodus, Chapter 20, God gave Moses his Ten Commandments for his people to live by. The first four deal specifically with the way we view and respect him, and the first two of those deal specifically with our human tendency to put things on the throne where God belongs.

“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.

When i was younger, i always saw that second one as outdated—something aimed at those stupid people at the bottom of the mountain who were in the process of building and worshipping a golden calf at the same time these commandments were being inscribed to Moses by the One who had miraculously led them out of Egypt and was daily supplying their every need.

We don’t bow down and worship idols these days, not in the ‘golden calf/ statue of Zeus’ sense, but we put plenty of things in our lives that take the place on the throne where God should be. Other people that we’re so codependent on that we don’t believe we can breathe without them nearby, substances, treasures, houses, jobs, money, food, sex…anything that takes our time and focus away from our relationship with God can be an idol. Some things that are good things on their own, or under the right circumstances can be given a position of too much importance if we’re not careful to stay in God’s word and maintain our relationship with him daily.

So what’s your hockey stick?

Maybe you just need to clean out the junk drawer in your kitchen. Maybe you need to clean out the junk closet of your life. Take some inventory of what God wants you to let go of this year. If you think you might need help, Stonepoint offers re:generation on Monday nights, where you can find that you are not alone in your struggle to let go of things. It’s a great place to share the story of your junk in a judgement-free environment and get into God’s word with a group of people that will give you encouragement and accountability.

Just think of the bonfire we could make out here in the country with all those hockey sticks.

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