I watched the Carolina Panthers football game today. The Panthers have had a dubious football career. In the past, they have tended to lose more than win and have consequently become the butt of many jokes. However, this season, they are doing well – but often seem to do so at the last minute, earning themselves the nickname “Cardiac Cats.” Today’s game was no different.
When I started watching the game, sometime during the 3rd quarter, the score was 16 to 13, in the Miami Dolphins’ favor. Up and down the field the two teams ran, swapping possession of the ball amid tackles, quarterback sacks and penalties. Finally, it came down to the last few minutes of the game and the score had not changed. The Panthers got the ball back, made some smart plays and managed to score another touchdown. They were now in the lead by four points…with less than a minute on the clock. The only way Miami could win the game would be a touchdown. The commentators were wondering if Miami would try a “Hail Mary.”
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a “Hail Mary” is a last-minute, last-ditch effort to win a game. In the last few decades, the term more commonly refers to a super-long throw in which the quarterback chucks it with all his might and prays one of his receivers will be in the end zone to catch it.
watched quietly jumped up and down, yelling at the television, it occurred to me that football is a bit like life. You gain some ground, you lose some ground. You get knocked down and rolled around. There are incredible highs and horrible lows. And, sometimes, it looks like you’re gonna lose unless God pulls out a Hail Mary. Fortunately, (or unfortunately) that seems to be God’s favorite play. He waits until it seems all hope is lost, then wham! He pulls off a miracle so big that it can be no one but Him doing it.
The Bible tells a few of those stories. In the book of Ruth, Naomi will never have a grandchild – until her daughter-in-law marries Boaz, has a son and gives him to Naomi. The widow lady with one bit of oil and flour left – enough for one meal – was gathering sticks for her own last supper when Elijah showed up demanding bread – when she was obedient, God blessed her flour and oil so they didn’t run out until the famine was over. The Israelites were stuck between an angry Pharoah’s army and the Red Sea – ’til God parted the sea. See….He is an on time God!
But….what about those times when He’s not on time? You know….those times when it seems like it’s just too late. The repo man is on his way to get your car. Your loved one is diagnosed with an incurable disease. The relationship is over. What about those times? Well….ask Sarah – she was 90 when her baby boy was born! Ask Lazarus – he’d been dead so long that when Jesus asked to see him, his sister said, “but Lord, he stinketh!” Ask Ezekiel about the dry bones. Oh wait….God asked him. His answer? “Lord, you know.” God then gave him a vision of the bones coming together and coming to life.
We had the privilege of going to the same church for 15 years. We were spiritual babies when we started and they did a great job of raising us from immature babes to slightly more mature Christians ready to go out into the world. Our “spiritual mom” there was an amazing woman. She taught us so many things over the years. One of her sayings that stuck with us is this, “well, the Lord knows.” Often, when words would fail her, when prayers seemed to be unheard, when the answers weren’t easy to find, she would respond with those words. It was a reminder that God hasn’t forgotten us, no matter how it may feel.
So…this jumble of open-ended paragraphs all lead to the same answer. God can call a Hail Mary pass anytime He chooses. Even when it seems impossible….even if, like my sweet husband, you’re saying, but Lord, it stinketh!….maybe especially then, that’s the time to pray for more faith and hang on – God is at work. The answer may not always be what you expect, but it will be exactly what you need. No matter what quarter of the game you’re in – even if the game is over, God is the game changer! He can heal. He can send a check. He can send a job. He can mend a relationship. He can restore. He referred to Himself to Moses as “I AM that I AM.” I often remind myself that means that HE IS….anything I need. And I’m reminding you of the same thing!
Be blessed and tell someone you love them.
Oh….and by the way….the Miami Dolphins did NOT get their Hail Mary and the Cardiac Cats pulled out another win. Go Panthers!