It was a regular Friday night on a football field in small-town Iowa. The game was over. The bleachers had mostly cleared, and it was time for the players to head to the locker room. Then it happened:
All the players from the two rival teams came together at midfield. For the previous two hours, they had gone head-to-head in competition. But none of that mattered in this moment.
The players made one big circle and held hands. Then, player No. 51 walked to the center. He spoke words that have moved mountains for centuries: “Let’s pray.”
All those players bowed their heads to talk with God, under the Friday night lights. Meanwhile, some of the younger boys (usually assigned the task of fetching water) got a close-up look at what it really means to be a hero.
There was no fanfare. No big announcement over the loudspeaker. Most of the people had no clue it was happening, but thankfully a photographer from the regional paper snapped this picture.
This is a beautiful image of what it means to take a knee. This is what it looks like to bow humbly before your God.
Teens these days are criticized for being irresponsible and distracted by social media. I hear concerns that this generation has strayed from God.
But then I see with my own eyes a different story. I see how God is still in the business of rising up leaders for His purposes.
I know player No. 51. His name is Easton. We live in a small farming community, where everybody knows everybody, so I called him up and told him how proud I was of what he had done.
He said he wasn’t worried about the words he spoke, or how he might be perceived by anyone on the field.
“There is no such thing as a perfect prayer. I let God speak, and let the words come out as they were. That’s it.”
He told me that his team planned on doing the same thing for the rest of the season. Win or lose, they want to end every game with prayer.
Here’s what else he told me:
This was all about God. It was about focusing on the right things, in a world that can get focused on the wrong things.
It was about taking a knee — and taking a stand — and taking a chance that if even ONE KID in that circle needed prayer, well, he got it.
It all happened right out there, on the 50-yard line, because a boy standing under the Friday night lights said: “Here I am, send me.”