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Destiny and Choice

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Senior Nate Haasis’ high school football career seemed destined to end in record-setting fashion this fall. In his last game of the season for Springfield Southeast High School in Illinois, he threw a 37-yard completion to become the all-time leader in passing yards of the Central State Eight Conference.

As soon as the play began to unfold, however, Haasis (pronounced HAY-sis) realized something was amiss. The players on the opposing team didn’t rush him or try to tackle the receiver. They didn’t even crouch at the line of scrimmage. They just stood back and watched.

Unbeknown to Haasis, during a timeout with less than a minute to play in the game, his coach had struck a deal with the coach of the opposing team, which had built a big lead. Cahokia would be allowed to score again; then they would put up no defense against Springfield Southeast. Haasis would get his record, and Cahokia would get the 42-20 victory.

By the time the play had ended, everyone realized what had happened. A few days later, Haasis responded with a letter to the football conference asking that his record-setting pass be dropped from the books.

“While I admittedly would like to have passed the record, as I think most high school quarterbacks would, I am requesting that the Central State Eight does not include this pass in the record books,” he wrote.

While holding the record “would have been great … something to share with my teammates,” Haasis stressed in his letter that his final pass shouldn’t be counted in order “to preserve the integrity and sportsmanship of a great conference for future athletes.”

Recognizing that the completed passes during his career “required a lot of cooperation and hard work from my teammates,” Haasis said, “I do not wish to diminish the accomplishments that were made in the last three years.”

Haasis made a firm but difficult choice that sealed his destiny as a high school football player. He will never be the all-time passing champion in his high school conference. He will, however, be remembered as a principled young man who did the right thing for the right reasons. And he seems well on his way to a promising college football career as well.

Jesus’ birth was surrounded by a series of difficult decisions for his parents, especially Joseph. At any point along the way, Joseph could have made a choice that would have uncomplicated his own life but would have put Mary and Jesus in great peril. Instead, he chose to listen to and follow the instructions he received in dreams and thereby follow God’s plan. His understanding was extremely limited. After all, who had ever experienced this?

Because Joseph chose to be faithful to the parts of God’s plan he did understand, he continued to receive additional insights. His obedience kept Jesus from the hostilities in Israel that sought to destroy him and preserved him for his destiny.

God’s hand was evident to Joseph as he made each choice and took each next step. God’s hand would be more evident to us, too, if like Joseph, we were more cooperative.

“The gap between who we are and who God wills us to be is explained by the choices we have made,” observes Gary Burton, author of the lesson “Free to Choose.”

Joseph made all the right choices.

Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.