Miracles on the Gridiron

Last Sunday I watched Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. I rooted for Seattle partially because their quarterback Russell Wilson is an outspoken Christian. Like Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams 15 years before, I had hoped to see Russell lead his team to victory and then thank Jesus on national television.

Near the end of the game with the Patriots leading 28-24, it appeared God had His hand on what looked to become a come-from-behind victory for Seattle. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse juggled and caught a 33-yard pass from Russell at the Patriots five-yard line. It reminded me of the miraculous helmet catch New York Giants receiver David Tyree (who’s also a Christian) made against the Patriots seven years ago in Super Bowl XLII.

Two plays later, I was stunned and disappointed when a rookie Patriots cornerback named Malcolm Butler made a game-saving interception near the goal line. Later I found out Malcolm is a believer who had a vision of making a big play just before it happened. It’s possible the spirit of seeing and knowing was in operation for Malcolm.

It’s been debated whether God affects the outcome of sporting events. Keep in mind when two teams are playing, you likely have Christians on both sides of the ball. Only one team can win. 

Still I believe God allows athletes to succeed if they give Him the glory. The late Reggie White (who was also an ordained minister) desired to win a Super Bowl ring after eight frustrating seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. When he became a free agent following the 1992 NFL season, Reggie prayed about which team to play for. The Lord told him to go to Green Bay. Four years later, Reggie helped the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI.

Quarterback Tim Tebow caught the public’s attention during the 2011 season by winning numerous last minute games with the Denver Broncos and made “Tebowing” (his kneeling down while praying) part of the national lexicon. Then in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tim set a NFL playoff record for yards per completion (31.6). That and his passing yards (316) evoked John 3:16, Tim's favorite Bible verse. The Nielsen ratings for that game happened to peak at 31.6. As a result, John 3:16 was the top search item on Google the next morning.

God can use any means to get His message across. That includes football games.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16

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