Today’s sermon was a video entitled “Football Sunday,” in which NFL players who follow Christ shared their powerful stories of faith in God. Many players gave highlights regarding their faith and how God has shaped and blessed their lives, but three players in particular were highlighted.
Thomas Davis, linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, shared his health struggles as a test of his courage and faith. During a volunteer event in which children would be screened for heart conditions before playing sports, Thomas had his own screening done to get kids excited about their own. However, Thomas’ screening unexpectedly revealed that Thomas had an abnormal coronary artery and required surgery. Thomas and his wife prayed to God that this surgery could be prevented, knowing that no player had ever come back from open-heart surgery to play in the NFL. By the miracle of God’s grace, doctors later concluded that this imminent surgery was no longer necessary.
His encouragement was to follow the process, be obedient, and listen to God.
Later, Thomas experienced three ACL tears, each followed by a surgery and difficult recovery. He knew that this meant his opportunities in the NFL were likely at an end, but he was unrelenting in prayer and diligent rehabilitation until he ultimately came back so strong that he received the Walter Peyton Man of the Year award. Thomas believes that God allowed him to experience these trials so that he would be able to encourage others not to give up, but to push through their struggles. His encouragement was to follow the process, be obedient, and listen to God.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Drew Brees, Quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, learned to trust God in the midst of fear and uncertainty.
While still in high school, in the third round of playoffs, he tore his ACL. This was devastating for a junior who was anticipating recruitment for college teams, but God used it to get Drew’s attention. Sitting in church one Sunday as he waited for his injury to heal enough to undergo surgery, Drew was struck by his pastor’s challenge that God was looking for “a few good men” to carry his kingdom and spread his word. He realized that God had a calling on his life that was bigger than sports. That was the day he accepted Christ into his heart.
Later, as the San Diego Charger Quarterback in his last game of the fifth season and without a returning contract to protect him, Drew suffered one of the worst injuries a quarterback can experience – a displaced shoulder. He realized as he walked from the field that he would likely never wear a Charger uniform again and may never even play again.
However, a few months later, he was visiting New Orleans with a prospect of playing for the Saints. The city was sitting in the wake of Katrina in utter devastation. Drew’s eyes told him not to come to this place, but God told him that coming to New Orleans was not just about revitalizing a football team, but about the resurrection and rebirth of a city. So Drew and Brittney had to trust God beyond what they could see and come to New Orleans, where only four years later, Drew led the Saints to their first Super Bowl Victory.
Drew reflected that we as people want to see and touch and feel in order for something to be real, but 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us, For we live by faith, not by sight. Sometimes we can’t see God’s plan, but we can still trust it. If God is calling you to something bigger than yourself, put fear aside to trust Him and take the next step.
Trent Dilfer, Super-Bowl-winning quarterback for the Ravens, experienced a parent’s worst nightmare in 2003. After a family trip to Disneyland, his 5-year-old son Trevin had a cold and was not recovering well. A visit to the hospital revealed a serious heart condition that put Trevin on a bypass machine and required his transfer to a hospital in Stanford.
God showed His presence to the Dilfers in many ways, from a nurse who was able to keep Trevin’s heart pumping while doctors connected the bypass machine, to their community who rallied and provided an ambulance to cover the 200-mile journey to Stanford.
After 40 days on the machine, Trevin grew weaker, his pain grew stronger, and a systematic infection made him ineligible for the heart transplant he needed. He was losing the battle. So after praying and seeking godly counsel, the Dilfers made the decision to take Trevin off of life support. On April 27, 2003 Trevin passed into the arms of his Savior.
Trent recounts that losing a child was horrific, and yet he unexplainably experienced peace washing over him in the greatest time of loss any parent could have. Trent also has a newfound understanding for the love of God the Father, who voluntarily gave the life of His beloved Son for us so that we could be restored to Him eternally.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Pastor Miles closed the message by saying that God created us, loves us, and wants a relationship with us. He wants to talk to us, guide us, and love us, but our sin pushes God away. It is a spiritual offence with the penalty of death; it can only be removed if someone pays for it with life.
But God chose not to leave us in that condition. He opened the door of between us by sacrificing own Son. Now it comes down to A-B-C:
A - admit you are a sinner facing spiritual death
B - believe that Jesus is Lord, who died and rose for your sin; and
C – confess and turn away from your sin, asking God to receive you as his child
A relationship with God is the satisfaction that you search for in this life. He is calling you and wants to forgive you. It’s the most significant thing you’ll ever do.