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(You must be connected to the internet to see this picture.)--> “Underdog Stories”
by Tom Goodman
October 12, 2005

Have you discovered the power of the “Forward” button on your e-mail program?  About 650 people subscribe to Winning Ways—and one reason people sign up is because a friend told them about it.  Make the “E” in e-mail stand for “encouragement!”  Forward this “encouragement-mail” to your friends today!  If you’ve received this copy from a friend and want to become a regular subscriber, instructions are at the bottom of the page.  —Tom

Wow.  It took a record eighteen innings, but the Houston Astros are now in the National League Championship Series, beating the Atlanta Braves

The Braves were winning 6-1 by the time the Astros got a chance to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning.  It appeared the Braves had the game in hand and would tie the best-of-five series, requiring another game to decide which team would go to the NLCS.

As it turns out, the game wasn’t even halfway through by that late inning.  The Astros brought it to 6-5 in the eighth and then a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth tied the game.  Nine innings later, rookie Chris Burke hit a home run to end the game.

Eighteen innings to make it into the NLCS seems pretty fitting for a team that started out losing 30 of its first 45 games.  At the start of the season, no one would have predicted the Astros in the championship series.

I’ve always liked underdog stories.  (Hey, how else can Baylor fans survive during college football season without expecting one or two underdog stories about our team?)

God must like underdog stories, too, because he has a lot of them in his Bible.

There’s Moses, for example.  Despite his privileged start in Pharaoh’s courts, no one would have predicted him to become Israel’s liberator.  Not after fleeing from a murder and spending 4 decades in the backwoods until he was a grizzled 80-year-old shepherd.  Still, for over 3,000 years he’s been known the world over as history’s greatest liberator.

There’s Nehemiah.  Exiles had returned from 70 years of Babylonian exile to find Jerusalem in ruins.  When Nehemiah arrived in the Holy City, he found ruined walls and demoralized people.  No one expected that the wall around the entire city would ever be completed, let alone in a month’s time.

Who would have thought that Simon Peter would become the bold leader of the Jerusalem church after his dismal disloyalty the night Jesus was arrested?  And certainly no one expected much from a feisty little Pharisee named Saul of whom it was said, “in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:10).  Yet most of your New Testament is made up of his letters.

Why are we drawn to the underdog stories?  I’d say that we like them because we know what it’s like to be the underdog.  A boss neglects us for a position, someone we love fails to return our interest, a bank refuses to fund our dream, and the general “talk” is that we won’t amount to much.  Our failures or perceived incompetence have left us under-rated, overlooked, and written off.

According to the Bible stories, that’s the time God prefers to step in and do something with a life. I can’t wait to see what he does with yours . . . and mine!


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