It's an old expression that the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Some of His ways we never understand. Some we don't understand until many years later. This little story is an example of the latter.
It was December, 1980. I was twelve years old and living in Hope Mills, North Carolina. For reasons that many of my friends never understood, I was already a huge Minnesota Vikings fan. I had never set foot in the state (In fact, I wouldn't cross the Minnesota boarder until 28 years later), but I rooted for them with a fervency that many save for their hometown favorites. Why? Probably a couple of reasons. One, my father was a big fan, and he rooted with such a passion that I couldn't help but join in. Two, once I start rooting for something, I am loyal to a fault. When friends would mock me for being a Vikings fan, it would make me dig in my heels even more. In a town full of fans of the Redskins and Cowboys, I heard a lot about how the Vikings sucked, how they never won a Super Bowl, etc, etc. But I kept the faith that one day they would justify my love for them.
I had a feeling that this 14th day of December was going to be something special. The first indication was that the Vikings were actually on television. This was a rarity among rarities in North Carolina, where those 'Skins and 'Boys dominated the airwaves. It was also special because it was a huge game for my Vikes. If they win this game, they win the NFC Central division...
But the first 55 minutes or so of the game sucked. Despite the Vikings (at least to my biased, 12-year-old eyes) seemingly dominating the game, they kept having trouble getting in the end zone. So the 4th quarter was winding down, and the Vikings were losing 23-9. Tommy Kramer and his receivers, led by Ahmad Rashad, made a desperate attempt to come back. But, despite scoring two touchdowns in the last five minutes, a high snap caused them to miss an extra point and they were still losing 23-22. The Browns punted the ball back to Minnesota, who had it on their own 20, with 14 seconds remaining and no timeouts. I went into the next room alone and, for the first and only time in my life, prayed for my team to win a football game. I knew I was praying for a miracle.
And then....the miracle happened...
My Dad and I jumped off of the couch and screamed. It was unbelievable! I have never seen such an amazing ending to a football game - before or since. The next day, my friends tried to tell me that my team was "lucky". But I knew the truth - it wasn't luck, it was truly a miraculous gift from God.
I recently told this story to a friend, and they had an interesting view. They said that God allowed this miracle to occur to me, at the age of 12, to strengthen my faith, and to help me believe in other, more important miracles.
They may very well be right. I have never again prayed for my team to win a football game, because I feel that God has more important things to attend to than football.
However, if the Vikings ever make it to the Super Bowl again....I might have to re-think my position on that!
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