By Joshua Cooley
SPIRITUAL TRAINING WITH THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
When Trey Burton signed with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles as a rookie free agent in 2014, he could see divine fingerprints all over the deal. At the time, Burton, an undrafted multipurpose offensive player, was looking for both an NFL team and a spiritual home. He and his two younger brothers had grown up in a single-parent family after his father had left when he was two weeks old. Burton attended a Christian academy in grade school and professed faith in kindergarten, but as he got older, worldly temptations kept getting the best of him. He lacked spiritual fruit.
What can C.S. Lewis teach us about reconciliation?” asked my friend Dr. Claudia May, a professor of reconciliation studies. Although I’ve studied Lewis’s writings for years, this wasn’t a question I’d ever considered. In an increasingly divided climate—politically, religiously, and otherwise—reconciliation is an unavoidable topic. As Christians, we are motivated to engage in the work of reconciliation because we pursue the reconciling One who still calls, “Follow me.” Christ’s work in our world makes reconciliation more timeless than timely (2 Cor 5:19).
The deadline had arrived. I paced my office praying for a sign. If I stepped out to relocate my family to Scotland, would the Lord provide? Although I had once been certain he had called me to make the move, the lack of financial support caused significant doubt.
I grew up in a Christian tradition that discouraged asking God for signs. Such a request was considered, at best, a demonstration of distrust and, at worst, a violation of the “Don’t test the Lord your God” command. But desperate times called for drastic measures—even if they came from other denominations. So, against my upbringing, I did it. I asked God for a sign.