e lost power again yesterday, for the third weekend in a row. This time there was no ice storm; Georgia Power was just doing some temporary repair work in our grid. But it was frightening to think that we might spend another night living in primitive conditions, building fires for warmth. Life without power is no fun; and frankly, I am a little tired of it.
Lots of us have been getting by without spiritual power for a long time; however, Rams miracle quarterback, Kurt Warner, acknowledged his source of amazing power after winning the Super Bowl, almost single-handedly, when he raised the big gold trophy in the air and yelled, Thank You Jesus! Warners point was not that Jesus had defeated the Titans, but that He had straightened Kurts life out, and filled him with love, grace, healing and power; to the point that he has become the quarterback that he had the potential of becoming.
Never having played in a NFL game, he was recruited from lowly Arena Football, at the beginning of this season, as a backup, to a guy with a multi-million dollar salary, who was injured prior to the season. Few noticed that Warner had accepted the usually shunned # 13, but he was just glad to have a jersey. You know the story from there: Unbelievably, he set many new records, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, won the league MVP, set a new record for passing in the biggest game of his life, and was named Super Bowl MVP.
Many of us have been emotionally and spiritually defeated by our circumstances. Others have been groping through darkness by candlelight. And all the while the Power that flung the stars into space has been seeking to turn His Light on in our lives.
As you may have heard, Kurt and Brenda Warner have a constant reminder of how Gods power can bring change into desperate situations, and it comes in a pint sized package named Zachary. Brendas first husband accidentally dropped infant Zachary during a bath, injuring his brain and rupturing his retinas. Brenda, a devout believer, spent weeks in the hospital sitting beside Zacharys bed praying: and God began to answer her prayers. Zachary slowly has recovered much of his brain function and has some vision, but has become a special, loving and wonderful child. However, Brenda could not save her marriage. On top of everything else, soon after her divorce her supportive parents were killed in an auto accident.
However, it is hard for her to recall the pain of that desperate time for when it seemed that all hope was gone, along came Kurt. This was during the time of his now famous job as a night shelf stockboy in a Hi-Vee grocery store for $ 5.50 per hour. His football career seemed over. He had failed to make the Green Bay Packers team and was back where he had starred as a quarterback for the small college, IAA, Northern Iowa football team. He met Brenda at a Line Dancing Class. They talked, and she told him about her two kids. He soon met the children, and says that he fell in love with them before he fell in love with Brenda. Very soon he also fell in love with Brendas Savior; and new opportunities began to come his way. Arena Eight Man Football called and he threw for over 10 thousand yards in three seasons. Then, the St. Louis Rams bought his contract and sent him to the fledgling European NFL League for a season with the Amsterdam Admirals. This year he was called up to be a backup quarterback for the Rams, and the rest of the story has been told.
Many of us religious folks have never really caught onto the Power. We have heard about it, and maybe experimented with it; but, somehow have managed to keep it at arms length. Maybe our social situation has almost demanded that we keep one foot in the secular. Perhaps the nature of our employment, or family, has made it difficult for us to go all the way: to really allow the Power to be turned on in our souls. But, God wants to use us as a brush to repaint our future. We dont know what that painting would look like. Its frightening to think that we could be painting in all new colors, but we do know who is holding the paint brush, and we somehow know that we can trust Him.
During this cold month of winter we need to hear the Good News that Power is available to fire up our dormant furnaces. No matter how cold our hearts, we can receive a new burst of spiritual energy. God provides the Power to enable us ...to mount up with wings as eagles, to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint. (see v.31).
Yesterday we held a funeral service for 91 year old Frances Waddill whose life exemplified the wonder working Power of God as much as does Kurt Warners. She was born premature, weighing just 2 pounds, in an age when preemies seldom survived. Her father had been killed in an automobile accident, just prior to her birth, in an age when there were very few cars. She had a strong mother who was a school teacher and she reared Frances to love the Lord. They made trips to Europe and her mother instilled in her the love of learning. After graduating from Vassar College in New York, she became head librarian at Georgia Tech. Her life was her books and her boys, and she never married. In her late 50s she developed a disabling muscle disease and had to live in a nursing home. She set a record that none of us ever want to break by living at our Wesley Woods Health Care Center for 35 years, until her recent death. But through it all she maintained her sense of humor and acknowledged Gods Power as the source of her strength amid adversity. Her doctor named her Tiger Waddill because she endured many surgeries, and hospitalizations with such grace. Physically weak, she became a spiritual powerhouse. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. (v.29).
Brenda Warner loves to share the story of how Zachary, now ten years old and mainlined in most of his school courses, said to Kurt one night during this years dream season, Youre as great a Dad as you are a Quarterback! Thank God that many of our homes are filled with Dads and Moms who have been made great through the Power from on high. This does not happen because of our ability, but because of our availability to His Power at work within our lives, whether it be from a nursing home bed, or from a Super Bowl football field.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor