Away from the Puck

He is a young, professional hockey player, highly valued for his ability to score goals. For this reason, he has the potential to have a long and successful career as a professional athlete. He can be a star. But this season the coach has been constantly pressuring him to put more focus on how he plays when he is “away from the puck.” He does not think this is very important. His strength is scoring goals, he can only do that when he has the puck, and he wants to concentrate on his area of strength because that is where his future success will lie.

After a recent game, the coach took him aside for a talk. The player had played about 16 minutes in the game, and the coach asked him how long he thought he had possession of the puck. He said about two minutes. He had actually had the puck for 29 seconds. This means that he was playing without the puck about 97 percent of the time. This is why the coach has been hounding him. Since the player does not have the puck most of the time, it is that time that will ultimately determine his success or failure.

There is a life lesson for all of us here. Most of life is lived out of the spotlight, when no one is watching, as we go about our daily tasks, as we do our work, as we fulfill or do not fulfill our responsibilities, as we act wisely and properly or unwisely and improperly, as we harbor love or hatred, justice or injustice, deep in the recesses of our hearts. It is how we act when no one is watching, what we do in secret, that will determine our ultimate success.

We may think there is no one watching. But just as the coach is watching, recording, and judging everything the hockey player does, so there is someone watching us. That someone is God.

Jesus Christ said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:2-3 NIV) and “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4, 18 NIV).

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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