In the summer of 1968, I was getting ready to go into my junior year of high school. I had just come out of the hay field from a long day of baling. It was a hot, muggy July afternoon. As I walked toward our home with one thing on my mind, a good cold drink of water, I saw a red and black Ford Galaxy 500 pull into our lane. I didn’t know this car or its driver.

I politely walked toward the car and came face to face with a man I did not know. He was about 6 feet tall, had a crew cut and wore black horn rim glasses. He stepped up to me, held out his hand and asked, “Are you Danny Paxton?” As I shook his hand, I was surprised that he knew my name and I awkwardly said, “Yes sir.” He looked into my eyes with a steely gaze and said, “I’m Gary Hveem, your new football coach and son,. . . I’m going to make you a champion.”

I can’t exactly tell you why I believed him but I believed him. I could feel myself embrace his confidence. Somehow, though this was our first meeting, he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. A champion. . . What did that mean? Whatever it meant, I was all in! That day, I said one big, “YES”.

Coach and I talked for just a few more minutes and then that Galaxy 500 drove down our gravel road in a cloud of dust. He was gone but I was changed. Coach Hveem had left a mark in me. He had awakened something in me that had been waiting to be stirred. He had given me vision.

What followed were long days on the practice field. Conditioning, weight training, gut busting drills. I got screamed at, had my face mask grabbed by my coach to get my full and undivided attention. All that hard work, sacrifice and effort could be traced back to something Coach had said that I came to believe. “I’m going to make you a champion.” 

What we do in life is driven by what we believe and what we see. With vision comes passion. If for some reason you feel like you lack passion, get vision. Vision will fill your life with passion. And with passion comes discipline, that is, the desire, will and ability to do things you would not otherwise do. And with discipline, you are able to take risks in life knowing that as you reach for the reality of the vision, win or lose, it’s all worth it.

I remember one particularly tough football practice. We were all exhausted and our final drill was to “bear crawl” on all fours up and then down a steep hill near our practice field. After the tenth time up and down that hill, I began to vomit. And as I tried to get control of my body, I began to think, “What am I doing this for? What in God’s name is making me drive myself like this?” And then came the answer in the seven words spoken to me during the summer. “I’m going to make you a champion”. I buckled my chin strap and went back to the hill.

A few years later I received the gift of life. I became a follower of Jesus. And though I had every right to dream my own dreams and develop my own picture of my future before I met Christ, the cross changed all of that. I had sworn allegiance to my Savior. I was no longer my own. I had been bought with a price. The blood of the Son of God had redeemed me. Now I was to glorify and honor God with my life. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

God has a vision for you. What could possibly be more fulfilling than that? He has gifted you in unique ways and because you are His workmanship, He has prepared for you works that must be done in and for Jesus Name. But before we can do anything, we must believe what he sees in us. We must come to believe truly that we are His sons and daughters, holy, accepted, pure, and royal. We are capable of doing all things through Christ who strengthens our lives. We are not hamstrung with sin but we are fully, freely and forever forgiven. We are His champions.

The best days are coming. All God wants from us is a simple response. He is saying, “Kids, just say YES”.