The life of a head football coach, whether in the NFL or in the top echelons of college football, is one of the most demanding jobs in the USA. Perhaps that is why great coaches like Dick Vermeil of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 80s and then the Rams and Chiefs years later battled so publicly with burnout and frustration. Perhaps that is why Urban Meyer had to step aside from Florida after health problems robbed him of his ability to perform at the level he expected of himself. The hours that coaches spend in film study, game planning, player evaluation, and all of the other duties of a high-profile head coach can be so draining as to be destructive to your health—both physically and emotionally. That is why Vermeil stepped away from coaching for 15 years between his stints with the Eagles and the Rams. Perhaps that is why Meyer stepped away from coaching for a year before stepping into the job at Ohio State. The demands of the schedule and the price that it exacts is legendary for its potential for destruction.
The fact is, however, that you don’t have to be a top-tier football coach to live life at a pace that can have negative consequences on your well-being. In the midst of a world that seems to be constantly set in full helter-skelter mode, there is a need for something that is becoming increasingly hard to find: the need for rest. David longed for that very rest when he was being pursued by his son, Absalom, and his former friend, Ahithophel, causing him to cry out, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6).
At some point, I think we have all felt that life was overwhelming and that our schedules and activities and responsibilities were on the verge of spinning out of orbit. But the same David who at one point wanted only to escape the demands of life, at another time expressed a better way, when he said, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass” (Psalm 37:7).
In lives full of chaos and exhaustion, we find that, in waiting upon the Lord, there is rest in Him and there is restoration in His presence. That is why the prophet Isaiah so wisely counseled, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
What a comfort it is to know that, in the midst of life’s chaos, our God not only offers us rest, He offers us renewal as well. The question is whether we will try to gut it out in our own strength or turn to Him for His inimitable strength.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain