Taquarius Wair. A unique name to describe a very gifted young man. I heard his story a few weeks ago, as the college football season began. When Taquarius was 4 years old, his house caught on fire. His mother was able to save Taquarius and his brother, but sadly their sister died. Taquarius was severely burned and had to undergo numerous surgeries. In the story, which aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter, when Taquarius found football at age 7, his life changed. Once he donned the uniform, no one could see the scars left by the burns and the reconstructive surgeries that followed. And Taquarius was quick. Fast forward to today. With all that he has endured, Taquarius is a wonderful, determined, dedicated, brave and strong young man. When he walked across the stage to receive his diploma, he declared: “I made it! I made it!” Students and families celebrated this significant milestone with him. This Fall, Taquarius enrolled in Mesabi Range College in Minnesota to continue his education and his hopes to one day play in the NFL.
For me, this was a story of healing. Taquarius’ spirit, and more importantly his mother’s were renewed when he discovered football. No one saw his scars when he was in uniform. He was a dynamic receiver, able to move faster than his teammates and opponents. He wasn’t a child with burn scars anymore. He was another kid, excited to be on a team, able to try something new and be accepted for the gifts and talents he brought. He was, not only welcomed, but embraced by his high school coach, and now by his college team. And yet, part of Taquarius’ story is missing. The identity of the first coach who welcomed him was never shared. Did that coach see something that others didn’t? Why was he willing to put Taquarius on the team? Was the coach able to see the possibilities, the potential and the promise of a seven year old; more than the scars, the brokenness and pain that were a constant part of his young life?
Isn’t that what being a Christian is all about? Jesus doesn’t ask us to see the sin in each other, or dare I say, ourselves. Our Lord doesn’t want us to focus on how we are broken. Our Savior doesn’t want us to dwell in a valley of despair or hurt. Jesus came to help us rise up and fulfill the hope and promise He has created for each of our lives. We have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within us. The light of our Lord shines through us. God does not see us as we are. Our Lord sees who we have the potential to be. In His eyes we all matter, we all have worth. May we continue to share God’s light with one another. May we seek to not only welcome, but embrace those who are wounded, broken or lost. May we be more like Jesus in all that we say and do, so no one feels separated from God’s kingdom. And Amen.