THE ULTIMATE UNDERDOG
I love a good underdog story. Anyone who was born in Colorado after 1970 can attest to this. The Denver Broncos. John Elway. Famous now, but were you a fan when they were stacking up losses like letters of rejection during the recession? If you were a Bronco fan, you were a fan of underdog stories because they were always the underdogs and always lost.
Super Bowl commercials even mocked the Broncos, nicknaming them the “Donkeys.” It took them more than four trips to the Super Bowl and wasn’t until their5th visit to the Super Bowl that they won.
Three of those devastating Super Bowl losses were under John Elway.
I wish I knew what John Elway was feeling as he walked into his fourth Super Bowl trip. I don’t doubt each player was determined to win at each game. But this one had to be different. My bet is he was downright, doggedly determined to see his team through. Whatever he needed to do – he was going to do it. Leave it all on the field. His loyalty, perseverance and focus were certainly at their peak.
Not many know of their underdog days now, but we Coloradans-the orange crush– had this ingrained in us. It is a part of me. I love when someone, some team, or some family, etc., shows the sheer determination, stamina, humility, perseverance (and sprinkled with some sacred circumstances) rises up. Love it.
I had to put an underdog story in my book “grace.” Honestly, it was my very favorite part to write. Instead of sitting on the couch in front of the TV., sipping a barley soda and chomping on cheesy dip, all the while biting my nails and sweating it out to see if those “donkeys” just might pull it through this year, I got to detail it with my own team The Mighty Lions.
In my opinion, the thing about the underdog stories that makes them so good is the victory. The triumph against crazy odds, unbelievable circumstances coupled with dogged determination, or whatever it might be—the story requires a “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!”
Even though John Elway was quarterback for three of those Super Bowl losses with the Broncos, the Broncos are one of only seven NFL teams to claim two consecutive Super Bowl wins—both with John Elway at the helm.
Yet it pales in comparison to the best underdog story of all time. It comes from the best-selling book of all time. It is about a carpenter from Nazareth;—no one would believe that something good would come from Nazareth-that pit of a place. In fact, his hometown didn’t even want to acknowledge him.
Yet, this story has God’s fingerprints all over it. Sacred circumstance. Jesus, this carpenter, at the prime age of 33, was betrayed by the closest of friends, wrongfully accused in a court of public opinion, rejected by those He came to save, denied by his followers, beaten, abused, spat on, humiliated, whipped, crushed, mocked and then, limb by limb, hung on a cross to die as soldiers cast lots for His clothes.
Talk about hopelessness. Unbelievable circumstances. My mind cannot grasp…
And you wouldn’t even believe what He did as he hung on that cross situated between two thieves.
Luke 23:39 tells us: “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us?’
But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
Hanging there, Jesus did what He does best – He forgave. Forgiving not only this repentant thief, but all who did this to Him- “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:34
Forgiveness for all. ALL. Even as He takes his last breath on earth, He refuses to give up doing what He came for.
Thinking of the elation I had when the Broncos won that first Super Bowl doesn’t even come close; nor does that second-in-a-row victory… Jesus perseveres and then he takes it even further.
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the woman bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again”
Jesus defied all odds, breaking the laws of science and the chains of the oppressed. He arose from the tomb and declared “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y” over death once-and-for-all.
He is risen.
And the CROWD GOES WILD!!!