God Loves the Underdog

by Dale Reeves

Story Pastor

This past Sunday at Christ’s Church in my sermon we talked about trusting God, and stepping up in boldness to confront our fears just as the teenage shepherd boy David did when he slayed the Philistine giant Goliath. David wasn’t even supposed to be on the battlefield that day, but his father Jesse sent him there with some food for his older brothers. After he checked on them, and realized none of them were man enough to take on the giant, David said, “I will do it!” He had experienced God’s deliverance firsthand in his own life as he defeated lions and bears while tending to his father’s sheep (see 1 Samuel 17:34-37).

A shepherd boy, armed with nothing but courage, faith, and a sling, slayed a fearsome giant with a single stone, then cut his head off with his gigantic sword, and walked around and taunted the enemy with Goliath’s head to show them what the power of the true God could do. It is the original and ultimate underdog story. To this day, “David and Goliath” is a metaphor used by many sportscasters when previewing sports matchups. When one team who is unranked knocks off a powerhouse team loaded with future professional ball players, it is referred to as a “David vs. Goliath” upset. We’re talking:

The 1980 U.S. ice hockey team vs. Russia in the Olympics (Miracle on Ice)

The New York Giants winning Super Bowl XLII by upsetting the undefeated juggernaut New England Patriots

University of Maryland Baltimore County (a 16 seed) beating the #1 seed Virginia Cavaliers in round one of the 2018 NCAA basketball tournament

Quarterback Kurt Warner returning to professional football after working as a stock boy for a grocery store, then leading the St. Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV

Last evening, I just saw a preview for a movie based on Kurt Warner’s comeback, called American Underdog. You can check out the trailer here:

Focusing on the Right “G”

Just as the Israelite army had a huge giant standing in the way of a victory, we all have giants to confront in our own lives. It might be something from our past, an obstacle currently in our way, or a fear of the future. I believe that far too often in our lives, we miss out on some great experiences that God wants for us because of our fear. So many people forfeit what God has in front of them because they choose fear over power, resentment over forgiveness, hatred over love, apathy over passion, and safety over boldness! That happens when we choose to dwell, and sometimes obsess, on the wrong G—the “Goliath”—and forget about the “God” who is in our life. We focus on the fear and forget about the One who tells us to “fear not.” We dwell on what we can’t do, instead of remembering what he can and what he has already done!

God loves the underdog. He loves to do things through his people that others say are impossible to achieve. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Ephesians 3:20, 21, where the apostle Paul writes, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (NIV).

It’s not about what we can do in our own abilities, but about what God can do through us, because of his power that is available to us. I often pull for the underdog in sports, when the underdog is not playing one of “my” teams. This month I am rooting for any team that is playing one of the college football teams that are ranked ahead of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (who are currently 9-0, and ranked fifth by the College Football Playoff committee). Because the Bearcats do not play in a “power five” conference, and their schedule is considered weaker, they have to prove themselves every week, even though they went into South Bend, Indiana, earlier this season and snapped Notre Dame’s 26-home-game winning streak by beating the 9th ranked team by a score of 24-13.

I love what UC Coach Luke Fickell said, when asked his thoughts about the ranking: “I don’t worry about it. We have no control. Let’s let it be. Let’s do what we can do, control what we can control, and let the chips fall where they may.”

For some people, what they hear others say about them can completely unravel them. The giants they see in front of them can paralyze them with fear. When we focus on WHO WE ARE instead of WHO GOD IS, we can shake in our boots as the Israelite army did quivering as they heard the taunts of the giant Goliath. God calls us to trust him in all things, take care of our business, and leave the results up to him.

God Cares About the Details

When my wife’s family talked about moving her mom and dad from Tennessee back up to Ohio this year, my father-in-law Larry, who is in his early eighties, said—after living down there for over thirty years—the move would be “monumental.” He was right. They sold their home south of Nashville, and bought a patio home just five minutes from my house. They lived with us for several months while waiting to take occupancy—which my wife and I greatly enjoyed! Then, when the trucks arrived with their furniture and myriad of boxes, it was a monumental undertaking to get everything put in its proper place. We couldn’t have done it without the help of many members in our amazing family.

But in the midst of the move, last weekend we had a nice surprise. My sister-in-law Pam had connected with someone she didn’t know from our church, Lisa Hanson, whose brother Steve had recently passed away. Lisa had posted on a website some miniature trains, tracks, etc., that her brother had—and she wanted to help his train collection find a good home. Well, my father-in-law has quite a nice display of Lionel trains that our girls and the next generation of great grands have greatly enjoyed. Just last week, my brothers-in-law and sons-in-law and I moved about 125 of Larry’s train boxes to the basement of their new home, waiting to be assembled again sometime later. When Pam showed up with these trains from Lisa’s brother, my father-in-law opened the box, and looked like a kid on Christmas morning as he said, “I can use all of this!”

I told Lisa, “Your brother’s collection went to the right guy,” and as I shared Larry’s reaction to the gift, Lisa responded, “You have no idea how happy this makes me. It means a lot to my sister and me. God is amazing the way he orchestrates things like this.”

What about you today? Do you have any little details of your life you don’t think God cares about? Or do you have a huge giant you are afraid to face? Is God in the midst of writing a great comeback story in your life? He is rooting for you! Remember, he loves the underdog!

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