Monday, September 1, 2008

Two things I never thought would mix... football and church

I had two great moments at church today, but I'm only awake enough to blog about one tonight. Hopefully tomorrow I will still remember the second one.

We had a football team in the service this morning. I didn't notice them during praise and worship because they were in the back middle section and I was in the front right section. We were singing new songs so I was reading the screen while we sang. But when we sat down after singing, our pastor welcomed the team and told us that they were from a high school in New Orleans and they were in town to play a game tomorrow. I actually laughed out loud when I turned around and saw that I somehow had failed to notice, not one football player, but an entire football team taking up a huge section of the sanctuary. Before the sermon started we prayed for the families and homes of the players who were in Dallas to play a football game while their families were at home preparing for a potentially devastating hurricane. I can't imagine what they must have been feeling this morning.

Well God had big plans for Brother Ken today. He is doing a sermon series on hope and the topic today was overcoming exhaustion. He taught from the passage in 1 Kings where Elijah is running for his life and tells God he has had enough. It was a great sermon, and the prayer time afterward was really special. He always closes his sermon with a prayer and then we have a time of prayer where the altar at the front is open for church members to come and pray. I asked Brett to come and pray with me because I wanted to take a minute to thank God for the blessings he has given us this week and ask him to focus Brett and I as we move forward with our relationship.

We finished praying just as the song ended so we got up and turned to walk to our seats. I was crying a little so I didn't look around when we stood up, but quickly turned and walked back to our seats with my head down trying to subtly wipe away a few tears. As we were walking, Brother Ken started talking again and said that he realized there were still a lot of young people praying but he wanted anyone who was willing to come and surround those praying so that we could all join them in lifting up their concerns. I had no idea what he was talking about but we got to our seat and I turned around and was shocked to see that, once again, I had failed to notice an entire football team. There were about 50 young men, probably all 16 and 17 years old, kneeling at the altar in prayer. They didn't look up as Brother Ken talked, but they continued to pray. The entire front of the stage was full... even the spot where Brett and I had been kneeling was filled with football players, and right in the middle of them was their coach.

The site took my breath away. The tears that I had been wiping away were replaced with a fountain of fresh tears as I thought of these young men and the terror they must be feeling. "Hurricane" isn't just a word that they read in their text books, it is a horrifying enemy who they have faced before and whose wrath they are still recovering from. I thought of how I would feel if I were away on a trip while my family were in the face of such a familiar danger. These young men who spend every waking moment trying to be "tough guys", tough enough to overcome their opponents, were facing an opponent that even the strongest, bravest and wisest men can not out-think.

So we prayed. And when we finished the coach walked right up to Brother Ken and took the microphone next to him and, after stopping to control his tears, thanked us for welcoming them and told us that they were not even supposed to be here today, but God had another plan. They had made arrangements to attend a different church this morning, but there was a mix-up and they arrived after church had already begun. So someone at the church told them where we are located, and they headed our way, and apparently, they received exactly the message that God meant for them to hear.

It was a very humbling moment. One that I will remember for a long time and one that I was thankful to be able to share. It is amazing how God can bring people together and, again, humbling how often he chooses to do so when our needs are the most severe.

God is good, all the time.

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