How would you introduce yourself? What words would you use to communicate to somebody who you are?
I had a great young friend who did that. Nathan Harris was an outstanding athlete and a tremendous young person. About a year ago, Nathan’s coach had asked him to write his own introduction for a special event. He finished high school and was completing his first year at Troy University. He was involved in a terrible accident on April 30, 2016 that took his life.
In late August 2016, Gulf Shores High School retired Nathan’s number and jersey. The two schools where he played, state champion Spanish Fort and Gulf Shores, gathered at the 50-yard line for the ceremony and joined hands and prayed. The State of Alabama and the City of Gulf Shores planted trees in his honor. They also both erected plaques which contain the introduction Nathan wrote to describe himself. They read:
My name is Nathan Harris. I am a son, brother, brother in law, uncle and grandson. I am a student, quarterback, shortstop, spear fisherman, hunter, fisherman. I spent the first 15 years of my life growing up on a cattle farm. I am proud to be an American, Southerner and Alabamian. All of these labels may say something about me but the only thing that defines me is my relationship with Jesus Christ. More than ever I have seen how things don’t always go as planned. Injury can change so much in sports but God is always faithful. I don’t know what the future holds or where I will be this time next year but I do know it will be exactly where God wants me to be.
I met Nathan’s grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Andy Harris, when I first moved to Montgomery in 1972. They were new to Montgomery as well. I remember going to visit them in their home after they visited Frazer one Sunday. They joined Frazer, and Andy and Kay became two of the best leaders the church has ever had!
They had two wonderful boys, Johnny and Scott. I watched them grow up. Johnny married Carol, a member of Frazer. They had two daughters and then came Nathan. They moved out of town. I followed Nathan’s athletic career with great interest. He was an extremely talented athlete. More importantly, he was a Godly young man. He influenced countless people with his friendship and Christian witness.
Nathan understood his priorities. He wanted everybody to know that of all the things he had accomplished in his life, the thing that defined him was his relationship with Jesus Christ. He had a terrible football injury that robbed him of one year of high school football, but he had a great attitude toward that injury. He knew who he was and Whose he was.
It’s an amazing thing that one year ago he wrote, “I don’t know what the future holds or where I will be this time next year but I do know it will be exactly where God wants me to be.” His faith was so strong when he wrote those words, and I know that today he is in a Place enjoying life much better than he ever enjoyed here! It is a statement of faith to know that he is exactly where God wants him to be.
What defines us? What (who) is most important to us? What kind of attitude do we have in times of hardship? How committed are we to always stay in God’s will? Do we know for sure Who holds our future?
Nathan Harris had those answers. Do we?