Photo credit: John Terhune from September 23, 2017. Tyler, right, and his friend Josh Seals in the student section at Ross-Ade before Purdue played Michigan.
I am an Ohio State fan. I grew up in the shadow of the horseshoe, our family was faithful to watch the games, and I graduated from the university. Today, I live and minister in Lafayette just a few minutes from Purdue’s campus. Whenever Ohio State travels to Purdue, I try to get tickets. This year, however, I was unable because I was speaking at a conference in California. One of the other conference speakers was a former pastoral staff member at College Park Church in Indianapolis named Andrew Rogers (College Park is the home church of the Trent family).
On Saturday morning I arrived at the conference to hear Andrew ask me if I had heard about Tyler Trent. I had not. Andrew had been communicating with Mr. Trent that day because Tyler’s story became part of ESPN Gameday. I quickly searched and sure enough there it was — a story about Tyler. Andrew told me that he knew the Trent family and that they had a faithful testimony of living passionately for Christ.
I wondered what would happen when the teams met on the field. Would it be a good game –with the Buckeyes coming out on top? Would it be a great game with a Drew Brees’ type finish where Purdue wins in the final moments of the game or the year the Buckeyes won on a desperation 4th down? Neither. God had other plans.
Purdue put a serious beat down on the Buckeyes that day. I was fortunate enough NOT to see the whole game. The part I saw looked like men playing against a high school team. Purdue dominated every facet of the game.
But the more I learned about Tyler and what God was doing, the more exciting the story became. God had a plan to receive glory in remarkable and exciting ways. Tyler’s life story, his love for Purdue, his love for the Lord Jesus, and the game itself came together to form a movement #TylerStrong. Tyler’s story was no longer the story of a local young man battling cancer. It was a national story of a young man who lived his final days passionately for God’s glory.
The more I learned about the Trent family, the more encouraged I was through Tyler’s story but, more importantly, because the story of Tyler’s God was being made known in ways that were hard to imagine. On New Year’s Day we learned that the Lord took Tyler home.
It reminded me of some of the great truths of Scripture.
Philippians 1:9-10 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ”
Philippians 1:27 “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”
Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”
I thank the Lord that we (Tyler and I) are fellow citizens – far more important that sports rivals – and that we both serve a great God who eagerly awaits the homegoing of his children.
I encourage you to thank the Lord for the passion with which a fellow citizen of heaven lived for Christ. I encourage you to imitate that example. Finally, I ask that you pray for the memorial service this Tuesday at College Park (more info here).
May God receive all the glory.