by Gail Armatys
Football fan or not, this year’s Super Bowl rookie and game winning play maker can help us all draw closer to God’s vision for our lives.
The New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in the last 20 seconds of Sunday’s game to become Super Bowl champions. This game was ultimately won when the Patriot’s rookie player, Malcolm Butler, made a pass interception in their own end zone. If not for that catch the game would have ended differently. As it turned out, Butler made a play that brought fans to their feet, confetti to the ground, and left everyone shaking their head at the pass play the Seahawk’s offensive coordinator called from above.
What did young Butler have to say about his interception as he walked off of the field still breathless? “I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play and it came true. And I’m just blessed.”
What vision? A vision he got from his mom. When he called her the day before the game, she shared her sense that Malcolm was going to do something fantastic. In an interview with Good Morning America Malcolm shared the details and was recorded saying, “I prayed on it and went out and played as hard as I could…and it turned out great!
Yes, Malcolm, it sure did!
A phone call to his mom and their combined faith wasn’t his only advantage. Malcolm also credited his preparation for the game which allowed him “to recognize what Seattle planned to do on what turned out to be the Seahawks’ final snap of the game.”
There is a whole lot going on in this story and if we read between the yard markers, there are lessons to be learned from Malcolm Butler about drawing closer to God’s vision for your life.
Malcolm prepared for this game for years; physically, mentally and based on his statements, spiritually. He jumped hurdles and persevered, sacrificing his time and preferences believing something good would come of it.
Like Malcolm, there are often many steps to take before we find ourselves ready to receive and accept God’s vision for our lives. Some of these steps include overcoming obstacles, hurts, and fears, learning to love and serve others, pressing on, living expectantly and surrendering our will to God…not all easily accomplished. And most of these experiences require repeat testing. But, if we ‘set our face’ toward the goal of seeking God’s vision for our lives, we can surely expect it and receive it. Never as we demand or require it, but always as our hearts are prepared and surrendered to his loving timing and will.
Malcolm received insight and encouragement after a conversation with his mom. In biblical times, Esther received it from Mordecai, which not only saved their lives but the lives of the Jews. Ruth’s encouragement came from Naomi, which led her to marry Boaz – which several generations later ‘begat’ Jesus. (Thanks, Naomi.) Good things come from intentional encouragement.
Surprisingly, the vision God has planned for our lives can be hard to see on our own. He doesn’t hide it, but we sometimes need encouragement while he waits for us. There are specific assignments in our days that culminate to bring about our unique vision. Sometimes we are blinded by details, self-will, or busyness but there are others who may see where we cannot and encourage us toward our vision.
In an interview, Malcolm said that he ‘prayed on it’. He prayed on the words he heard from his mom that told him he would do something fantastic. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell us what he prayed. Did he pray hoping that she didn’t misunderstand? Did he pray that he not fail in being fantastic? Or, did he make excuses to God saying he wasn’t ready for the job of being Mr. Fantastic? We don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet before he ended his prayer he included ‘ your will be done.’
My guess is that Malcolm hoped he would be used to do something incredible in the game, believed with all hope that God could make it happen, and desired God’s will above all.
Only God knows when we, and perhaps others in our lives, are ready for our vision to be revealed and realized. Only God in his grace brings clarity when it’s time.
From what I’ve seen, heard and read, Malcolm’s faith didn’t happen the day before the game. His relationship with his mom drew upon their shared faith. He relied on God through the years as he worked hard to play football first at a community college, then a university, and finally the pros. His faith developed as he persevered, learned and trusted. He probably had a pretty good idea that when his mom shared stories of God working, the usual would indeed turn fantastic.
I can’t say for sure about Malcolm’s experience, but I know when I trust, pray and wait obediently God’s promises do not fail.
There are lots of football players that make key plays in big games but I wonder how many of them tell the story of God’s hand in their success? Malcolm did it in two sentences.
I also wonder if in the moments before the game with promise of something great awaiting him God knew the faith of Malcolm’s heart. Did God share this vision knowing all along that in his humility, Malcolm would unashamedly bring God honor on center stage before the entire world?
In the end, I think that might matter most. For although Malcolm’s vision of doing something fantastic has been defined by the world as a super play for a Super Bowl win, I wonder if really the ‘something fantastic’ didn’t have more to do with bringing attention to the Source of the opportunity just as Malcolm faithfully claimed.
- Keep seeking God’s vision for your life with a pure heart.
- Be encouraged by God’s word and others.
- Pray for clarity and for God’s will.
- Expect God to follow through with his plans.
- Praise God for all that he has done.
Father, sometimes I just don’t have a clue as to what you have me here to accomplish. I pray to know the vision you have for my life. Please give me a pure heart and right motives as I seek your purposes. Help me to keep doing what you’ve given me to do each day fully expecting to catch a glimpse of your vision for my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Listen to your HeartSong Here!
While I’m Waiting/John Waller