Last night, the Denver Broncos – lead by 25-year-old, quarterback-legend-in-the-making Brock Osweiler – beat the (formerly) undefeated New England Patriots in overtime for a 30-24 victory that left all of Broncos Country speechless with glee.
And they did it all in a snowstorm.
(How do you guys think I’d do as a sports caster??)
I, for one, was squealing and jumping around my tiny living room like a fool, listening to the announcers declare “ITS ALL OVER” and watching the guys in orange grin with elation at the roaring crowds.
What a fun game.
There’s just something about football that makes you feel like a part of a big ‘ol family, isn’t there? The colors, the crowds, the stadium lights. The trill of the announcer’s voice deafened by the screaming of thousands of fans.
In no other situation in life would I profess love for people I have never met, strike up conversations with strangers who are simply wearing the same colors as me, or wish and pray for the outcome of an event over which I have absolutely zero control or influence.
As my roommate wisely pointed out, none of the starting players for the Broncos last night were even from Denver. But who cares?! We call them brothers and pledge our allegiance and give them the Mile High Salute.
It’s somewhat silly. But it’s thrilling.
It’s the timeless story of the underdog facing the giant, told over and over on an AstroTurf stage on national television with only the names and the jersey colors differentiating one David from the next Goliath.
It’s a story I love.
Brock Osweiler – a kid who is basically my age – was pulled off the bench to fill in for veteran QB Peyton Manning for his first NFL start on Sunday, November 22 against the Chicago Bears, making last night’s game only his second time on what you might call the “varsity” squad for the Broncos.
But he didn’t look like a new kid.
From where I sat on my couch, he looked calm and confident, even when surrounded by flurries of snow and angry-looking Patriot defenders.
He looked like a Goliath.
A commentator on the radio put it this way: “No one can call him second-string anymore.”
To that I say a loud-and-proud AMEN.
And to you, friends – I say the same.
How often do we use this “second-string” label on athletes…and on ourselves?
We feel under qualified, stretched for time, not cool enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not ____ enough.
We feel like we will never measure up to our peers or our friends. Like we will never be enough to please our boss or our parents or our in-laws.
We feel like our dreams won’t start and our call won’t come until we’re dating someone. Or until we’re married. Or until we have kids. Or until we buy the house.
Friends, I see this all too often in my own heart and in those of my peers. We’re putting ourselves on the bench. And I’m telling you right now it’s a move that’s motivated by fear, not humility.
We feel like, because we are not Peyton Manning, we’re not worthy to lead our team. Like we’re an unlikely candidate for victory.
This, friends, is not the ending of the story. Nor is it the heart of it.
Anything that makes you feel less-than-qualified to do God’s work for the Kingdom is something fishy, in my opinion. Anything that makes you feel like a second-class citizen of God’s kingdom is something to be questioned and investigated.
Of course, there are very real fears and challenges in this lifetime. Weird circumstances and timing. Seasons of doubt and depression. Sin. Financial worry. Relationship hurts.
But why do these things make us think we have to sit out of the arena of grace and let the “first-stringers” play? I don’t think that’s how God operates.
In the NFL, the only thing separating the first string from the second string is a couple of missteps or an injury or a referee’s call.
Like Brock, you could be called up to first-string any minute. Maybe, just maybe, you’re being called right now.
Your call is to love the Lord and to build his church. To encourage and shepherd and love His people. To serve the way the Son showed us to serve.
And this can and should be done right where we are, with what we have, whatever that may be.
The world wants to define you by your capabilities. But this Lord we follow? He says you’re already qualified simply because of who He made you to be. Simply because of who He is.
In the eyes of your Creator, you’re already in the game. You’re already first-string.
So, I’m calling us out friends (I am including myself in this). I’m talking to the underdogs.
For heaven’s sake, don’t wait until you’re dating. Don’t wait until the perfect job comes along. Don’t wait until your degree is finished. Don’t wait until 2016.
Prayerfully take the leap. Interview for as many jobs as it takes, and wow each and every person you meet with kindness. Volunteer. Get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Write a letter of encouragement to someone who is hurting. Make things. Get some exercise.
Even if you’re waiting on an answer or a position or a call, keep moving. Keep making. Keep seeking God.
Who knows? When you dare to step out on to the AstroTurf, you might just deflate those enemies that once loomed so large (I’m looking at you, Brady) and conquer those fears that used to immobilize you.
This is your game day. Your mission field. Your very life.
Love and lead your team with all the love and guts and passion you can muster, all for the glory of the God who loves to see you play.