Read a Mountaineer Excerpt

Read Philippians 3:10-16. .

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”
(v. 14).

Rod Thorn once garnered an honor no other WVU athlete has ever received or is ever likely to.

A guard, Thorn completed his All-American career in Morgan-town in 1963 third on the school’s all-time scoring list behind Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley. He was never a secret. “By the time [he] had reached high school, there were very few basketball fans in the state who didn’t know who he was.”

Thorn’s dad, Joe, was a former minor league pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system. He started working with his son when he was 4 years old. Before Rod’s hands were big enough to hold a basketball, his father had him use a volleyball. Rod started playing organized basketball when he was 6 years old, touring with some older kids on a team called the Rinky Dinks.

Thorn took naturally to baseball. “I could hit curve balls when I was six or seven years old because [his dad] threw them to me all of the time,” he said. Despite his excellence at basketball, the younger Thorn was set on following in his father’s footsteps as a professional baseball player and was a star in the Southern Conference at WVU. In his senior year, though, he was knocked unconscious when he was hit in the back of the head by a baseball. That put an end to his career on the diamond.

By Thorn’s senior year of high school, he had received letters from just about every major school in the country. He narrowed his choices to Duke and West Virginia. The West Virginia legislature decided to put a little extra pressure on Thorn. The legislators declared him a “natural resource,” a less than subtle way of begging him to stay in the state.

Whether the honor helped or not, Thorn, of course, opted to play for the Mountaineers.

Even the most modest and self-effacing among us can’t help but be pleased by prizes and honors. Such recognition symbolizes the approval and appreciation of others, whether it’s an Employee of the Month plaque, an award for sales achievement, or the sign declaring yours to be the neighborhood’s prettiest yard.

Such prizes and awards are often the culmination of the intentional pursuit of personal achievement and accomplishment. They represent accolades and recognition from the world. Nothing is inherently wrong with any of that just as long as we keep those honors in perspective. That is, we must never let awards become such idols that we worship or lower our sight from the greatest prize of all and the only one truly worth winning. It’s one that won’t rust, collect dust, or leave us wondering why we worked so hard to win it in the first place. The ultimate prize is eternal life, and it’s ours through Jesus Christ.

What in the world is this [legislature] thinking about? -- Rod Thorn’s reaction to being named a ‘natural resource’

God has the greatest prize of all ready to hand to you through Jesus Christ.

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