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Unlikely Heroes

Encounter: Find a quiet place to listen to or read Hebrews 11-12:1-3. Begin to think about which of these “heroes” of the faith you identify with the most. Then read the beginning of the story of David in Samuel 16:1-13, 17:20-58.

This past week Jack and I watched the movie, American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story. We all love a story where the underdog gets a chance to shine and this did not disappoint. Warner was aging out of chances to realize his dream of playing in the NFL, but his perseverance and unwillingness to quit gave him an edge.

Underdog follows his story of being cut by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and then taking a job at a supermarket in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to make ends meet. Then what appears as a compromise to play in the Barnstormers Arena Football League in 1995 turns into a pathway that would lead to being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 1998. Kurt would lead the Rams to a Super Bowl and then be named Most Valuable Player.

But the pivotal point in Kurt’s story would be meeting his wife of 24 years. As a Christ follower, Brenda saw in Kurt what he was unable to see. She impressed upon him that he was born for something greater than football, something eternal. He had his eyes set on playing in the NFL one day, but his real purpose was to find his life in God’s EPIC story with his eyes set on Jesus.

In an interview with USA Today Kurt shared,

“As much as the title is “American Underdog” and everybody sees it directly as my supermarket to Super Bowl story, that’s not the story that I wanted to tell. I think we have a family of underdogs and each of us had our own journeys to overcome things individually, but more importantly, it was us coming together, and how each of us shaped the other one to allow us to be where we’re at today.” It was the story of his faith he really wanted to tell. We could almost hear his name mentioned along with the heroes of the faith of Hebrews 11.

Kurt’s story reminds me of a famous man in the Bible whose name is mentioned almost as many times as the name of Jesus. David the Shepherd boy turned King of Israel would need to overcome obstacle after obstacle to learn how to walk by faith, to hold on to his calling and grow in obedience to His maker, but it appears a hero’s story is never an easy one.

Julie writes in our EPIC Trailguide, God who is the author of your EPIC, he more than anyone, has your best interests at heart. He will often place you in difficult situations, and perhaps even task you with making controversial choices, but know that in the end, the hero’s rewards are out of this world.

God would also bring another messenger into Kurt’s life. Rams head coach, Dick Vermeil would help him discover more of what he was capable of. Vermeil's exact words to Warner are echoed in "Underdog": "There's something special about you, son, and I can't wait to find out what it is.”

This Sunday, we kick off our Lenten Series, EPIC – Exploring Everyday Pathways in Christ. We will be looking at the lives of many of our favorite heroes in scripture to be inspired to face the challenges “by faith” and go forward where God calls each of us. You will also be reminded to pick up your invitation to begin your EPIC Journey and schedule your first session with your EPIC Coach, because like Coach Vermeil, we want you to hear, “There’s something special about you, and we can’t wait to find out what it is.”

On this EPIC Journey with you,

Pastor Tammy

Reflect: What do most of the “heroes” of the faith listed in Hebrews 11 have in common? What is EPIC about their lives? What were some of the challenges and trials these “heroes” went through and how did they respond to God in the midst of those difficulties?

Encourage: How does the story of David told in 1 Samuel 16:1-13 encourage your faith?

Gather: Discuss with your friends the definition of “faith.” What does faith mean to you? Why is it difficult to have faith and what are some of the challenges to our faith in our lives right now?

What does it look like in our lives to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” What do you think is the race marked out for you?

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