Around our house, no matter the time of year, you could find sports on the television because Holt Rowland is a “sports fanatic.” I guess he really could not help it. When he was born the television in the delivery room had been playing the same episode of Sports Center over and over, all night long. We got to the hospital about 11:00 pm that night, and Holt was not born until  7:00 am the next morning, so a nervous Dave needed something to watch as I lay in the bed in labor. I remember thinking, “Will somebody please turn off that television?! Enough ESPN and Sports Center!!”

It’s just no wonder that Holt Rowland came into this world already a Sports Center fan. He has a favorite team for every season. You know his favorite college football team (Roll Tide), but during basketball season he’s a Duke Blue Devils’ fan. I believe he would have gone to school at Duke if he had the chance just, so he could go to the basketball games and jump up and down with the blue-haired Crazies. (If you have ever watched Duke play, you know what I am talking about.) Duke shirt after Duke shirt I have bought that kid. We even received the Duke catalog every year because I was always ordering something for him.

When pro baseball season rolls around… close your ears Braves fan, Holt Rowland is a Boston Red Sox fan. He has about ten Boston baseball caps in all colors. Once we went on a school trip to New York City and even that didn’t stop Holt Rowland from wearing his Red Sox caps. Luckily our tour guide was from Boston, so he and Holt bonded right away; if the guy had been a Yankees fan it could have gotten ugly.

Sports have always been a part of Holt’s life. His dad has even carried him to numerous Nascar races, and he had a whole collection of miniature cars for all the drivers. When he was young, he even dressed up as Jeff Gordan for Halloween. I am telling you, Holt Rowland knows how to be a great fan!

Every different sports season and every single day I think about Holt. How much he enjoyed all aspects as life. Especially this week, with March Madness underway, I have been thinking about how much he loved watching those basketball games, all the big games and the surprising upsets. I know he would be cheering for Duke and wanting them to end up on top. I am sure he would be wearing a Duke shirt and bouncing up and down as he watched them play. Then, without a doubt, he would be tuning in to Sports Center for all the final highlights.

As much as I wish Holt was here doing all the things he loves to do, I think about the God who made Holt Rowland. God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5”  God didn’t just know Jeremiah that soon, he knew us too. He didn’t just set Jeremiah  apart for a purpose, he did the same for you, me, and Holt. This God, the only one, tells us that he knows us so well that at any given moment he knows exactly how many hairs are on our heads. Now that is caring about all the little details!

Even before Holt was born, God knew him. (He knew that his mother would be sick of Sports Center before he took his first real breath.) He knew how much Holt would love watching football, basketball, and baseball. He even knew his favorite team would be called the Blue Devils! He knew that March Madness would be a favorite time of year for him.  God made him to love those things, and God knows just how much enjoyment sports have brought to his life. I also believe that God knew that sports would be a great way for Holt to influence people. Playing sports his whole life, he had so many opportunities to come in contact with people and witness to them.

It would be easy to think that God has cheated Holt because he is not here on earth still doing the things he loves to do. But I am telling you today, God has not mistreated Holt Rowland! A God who loves us enough to keep track of our hair loss would certainly not mistreat one of his beloved children.  Don’t ask me how or in what ways he makes it up to us, but I just know that in heaven Holt is not missing out on a single thing. Maybe the circumstances look different than our earthly eyes can visualize, but the things or activities that bring us such pleasure on earth cannot even compare to the amount of lasting happiness and pure joy we will feel when we get to heaven. I know that whatever Holt Rowland is doing in heaven right now, it is better than watching his favorite team win the biggest game of all. It is even better than playing in the biggest game and scoring the winning point!  In Sports Center terms, just the highlights of heaven would make us happier than we have ever been let alone experiencing the real thing for all of eternity! I don’t know all that God has in store, but I do believe that if Holt could comment, he would say…..”Get on Jesus’ team and suit up, the very best game is yet to be played!”


P.S. For the record, when Hunter Rowland was born his nervous dad sat near my bed and watched music videos on CMT from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm; maybe that explains the headphones in his ears all the time!