There are a plethora of stories in life and in legend that remind us that the odds are not always predictive of the outcome! When it comes to underdogs facing insurmountable obstacles, the 1980 men's USA Olympic hockey team, otherwise known as "The Miracle on Ice," comes to mind. In fact, Sports Illustrated selected the team's victory over the Soviet Union en route to winning the gold medal as the No. 1 sports moment of the 20th century.
In Lake Placid, New York, on home turf, USA had to get through the Soviet Union to have a shot at the gold medal. Many had them pegged as dead men walking with absolutely no chance. USA was a team made up of amateurs and college stars while the Soviets were loaded with experienced players who had dominated their opponents. But after the first period they were tied 2-2. The impossible looked improbable at best. Then at the end of the second period, they were down 3-2 and it was looking bleak. Then in the third, they tied it up and went ahead with ten minutes left. That, of course, led to the famous Al Michael's line as the crowd counted down the last ten seconds … "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" The team still had to play Finland; they were down at the end of the second period 2-1 of that game when coach Herb Brooks said one thing in the locker room … “Gentleman, if you lose this game, you will take it to your grave.” There was not a man on the team who wanted that to happen, so they went back on the ice and defeated Finland 4-2 in their final match. The Americans, who were not anywhere close to favorites, took Lake Placid by storm and showed that underdogs can never be dismissed!
The Israelites were always underdogs by themselves. They were outnumbered, out smarted, and out manned, but they had one thing that changed everything … God was with them. Gideon, was a nobody, an amateur at best, a “want to be” with no experience or battle tested grit to think of. He is hiding in the cave, minding his own business just trying to put bread on the table. But God heard the cry of His people. They have suffered long enough and now, He is going to send an answer to their prayers … Gideon and 22,000, no wait, 10,000 … what? Too many? Okay, 300? One person for every 450 Midianites they were going to face. But they had God on their side ... and God has said what He was going to do and how He was going to do it. Strategy would confound the enemy, give God all the glory and go down as one of the greatest moments in underdog history.
… “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’ ”
So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. Judges 7:15–22
Gideon and his 300 men pursued the Midianites and defeated them. The people wanted to make Gideon their ruler because of all He had done and he reminded them …
“I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you;
the Lord will rule over you.”
The Lord is our God; He alone is worthy of our worship, devotion and allegiance. He is the one who protects, provides, establishes His promises and gives us His presence. He is for us and no one or thing can be against us. God turned a nobody into a somebody who was dangerous to the enemies of God.
During this Holy week spend time thinking deeply in the presence of God about the dangerous life of Jesus. He went into a world of darkness, against all odds to fight an evil enemy holding all of humanity in captivity. He fought a fight and defeated our enemy in a way that no one saw coming. He did not use personal power, or hundreds of thousands of troops. He destroyed the forces of darkness and rose victorious over death and the grave … against all odds.
What is God calling you to be, to do, to live that seems impossible? May we find in Christ the power to pursue God’s vision and purpose in our lives, our families, our communities and our world.
– Pastor Jerry