Thursday, November 20, 2008

Improbable Finishes

Anyone who has watched much football at all down through the years, especially highlights of college football rivalries, has witnessed some rather bizarre and improbable finishes. One game that always seems to appear on such a collection of wild endings is the November 20, 1982 game between Cal and Stanford. With future Hall of Famer and Super Bowl winning quarterback John Elway in charge, Stanford drove down for a field goal to give them a 20-19 lead with just 4 seconds left to play. Because the Stanford fans had flooded onto the field before the game ended, a 15-yard penalty was assessed, forcing Stanford to kick off from their own 25 yard line.

In a wild play that resembled rugby more than football, Kevin Moen of Cal scooped up the kicked ball at his own 46 yard line and then proceeded to lateral the ball backwards to a teammate, just before he was tackled. Four more laterals would occur before the ball found its way back in Moen’s hands and he scrambled the last 25 yards into the end zone, having to weave his way through the Stanford band that had come onto the field to celebrate their victory prematurely. Moen crossed the goal line for a touchdown, colliding in the process with a trombone player. Despite his great success as a professional NFL player, the loss meant that Elway never played in a college bowl game. He would laughingly joke later that he wished the band had practiced their tackling skills.

In the same way that football games can have totally unexpected endings, life itself can present us with some unanticipated curves and detours along the way. When those challenges suddenly appear, it will be our faith, sustained and nurtured by years of walking in fellowship with God that will see us through. Because those surprises can’t be predicted, it’s important to cultivate a deep-rooted faith every day through the disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other Christians.

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