Al Earley | Let go of the burden and give your trophies to Jesus

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Before we moved to LaGrange, I had to pack up my three kids’ trophies. That was an amazing collection of accomplishments. We had 50 trophies, around 100 medals, about ten plaques and untold millions of ribbons. There is something special about winning a trophy, at least for a while, and at least until the next competition, the next awards ceremony, or the next test. Trophies are funny things.

I remember the first soccer team I coached in Gallipolis, OH. We were awful. I had popped into the recreation office, said I wanted to coach, and they gave me all the kids that no one wanted. We played eight games and lost by an average of 10 to 0.  But at the end of the season something funny happened. As luck would have it, we were scheduled to play the best team the last game. They pounded us unmercifully. Their first place trophies were waiting for them after the game.  But we had the best player in the league on our team. We had the kid whose family owned the only trophy company in town. Their trophies were nice, but not as nice as ours.

As adults we don’t get trophies very often unless we coach the kids, and get one with them. But we strive to win different kinds of trophies. We strive with all we got. We can be so competitive.  We want to be the best at work, the best parent, the best volunteer at school, have the finest home, the best looking yard, the coolest car, the smartest kids, and be the happiest retired person we know. Do you know people who turn retirement into a competition?

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We try to earn our trophies and prove to everyone they are deserved. Sometimes it takes all the fun and joy out of life. The trophies of life can be like chains, and we are slaves, laboring to earn each one and display them in our trophy case.

Now perhaps you are wondering what all this talk about trophies has to do with Jesus. I think he was a trophy collector too. In John 4:7-42, we read about Jesus when he is collecting some trophies. A Samaritan woman has come to the well in the heat of the day, probably because her five failed marriages are not nearly as embarrassing as the talk of her living with a sixth man.  Jesus tells her, “I am the Messiah!”  Don’t miss the drama of this event in this woman’s life. Did you notice she forgot the water jar (vs. 28)?  She left behind the jug that caused a sag in her shoulders. She left behind the burden she brought.

Suddenly the shame of the tattered romances have disappeared. The insignificance of her life was swallowed up by the significance of the moment. “God is here! God has come. God cares for me!” That is why she forgot her water jar, and ran to tell anyone who would listen.

As we fight for the trophies of life, the trophies that signify our life matters, the most important trophy we have is the one we need to give away to Jesus when we accept him into our life. Jesus can give us the courage to let go of the need to please others, measure up, look right, be smart, and all the other trophies we wave in others’ faces to try to impress them.

What is the water jar you are carrying around? What is the burden that won’t seem to leave? Is there a sin that is best taken to the well at noon, when no one is there? Will you leave it behind with Jesus, and stop carrying it around with you?

Jesus wants us to be trophy collectors with him as well. The woman goes out to tell the good news to all that will listen.  Many were saved the next few days, as they came to find the living water for their lives, and give up a few trophies. Ours is a faith whose good news is so good, we dare not keep it to ourselves. Go out and share it with others. Statistically, 50 to 60 percent of the residents of our community are carrying trophies like water jugs on their backs, waiting for someone to give them life. Jesus needs us to help fill the trophy case with those water jugs.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see