Reflecting On An Amazing Journey

I grew up in a very strict and conservative home. My Father was the pastor of a small independent church, we were all homeschooled, and we weren’t allowed to participate in worldly things such as viewing television.

For many years, my family didn’t even own a TV. However, due to the fact that many people had been sending my Dad informational videotapes, he needed a method to watch them. Eventually, he made the decision to buy a television, but it was for videos only, and there was no antenna hooked up to the unit.

When I was about nine years old, my brother somehow managed to negotiate permission from my Dad to watch sports on TV. We were allowed to watch basketball, football, and the news on rare occasions. I didn’t care about the news so much back then, and basketball was sort of fun to watch. However, watching football with my brother and my Dad was always very special to me.

I tend to believe that my Dad always liked football more than he let on. Not only would he watch many of the games with us, but every winter during our break from school, he’d take us up to Green Bay to visit the Packer Hall of Fame. He loved to talk about the great players from when he was young, such as Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Boyd Dowler, and Ray Nitschke.

My Dad was always an extremely busy man. Between his preaching, his writing, and his other ministerial duties, there wasn’t a lot of time for us to spend together. During his later years, he didn’t always have time to watch football with us. But on my Sunday afternoon visits, my dad would always ask me how the Packers did that day.

On June 8, 2010, my Dad passed on. When the football season began in September, I couldn’t help but think of my Dad every time I watched a game. I missed having him sit on my recliner that he liked so much. I missed hearing him talk about all the old players from back in the day.

In the months following the passing of my Dad, I would often have a horrible time trying to fall asleep. I would spend many nights lying in bed awake and just talking to God. I remember one night, I was in bed and I said to the Lord, “Lord, it would really cheer me up if the Packers won the Super Bowl this year.” No sooner had I made that statement, I began to feel a bit silly. I then said, “I’m sorry Lord. I know that’s stupid. I know you don’t care about football.”

It was around that time that things began to look rough for the Green Bay Packers. Not only did they lose to the Detroit Lions (a team which has been considered one of the worst in the league for over a decade), quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion and was unable to play against the New England Patriots the following week. Although backup quarterback Matt Flynn made a valiant effort against the Patriots, the Packers fell by a score of 31-27.

But two things happened that day that altered the course of history. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants, despite being down 31-10 with 8:10 left in the 4th quarter. The game ended with the Eagles beating the Giants 38-31 as DeSean Jackson returned a punt 65 yards for a game-winning touchdown as time expired. In another important game, the Detroit Lions defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime after their kicker kicked a 34 yard field goal to win the game. At the time, the Buccaneers and the Packers were battling for the last NFC wildcard spot.

Because the Giants and the Buccaneers lost, the Packers still had a chance to make the playoffs. All they would have to do is win the last two games of the season against the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears and they would be in. Of course, that’s not an easy feat, since the Giants and the Bears are considered two of the better teams in the NFL. But the Packers prevailed, first defeating the Giants, and then defeating the Bears, a team that fought like mad to keep the Packers out of the playoffs.

The Packers earned the sixth and final seed and barely squeezed into the post season. At the time, it seemed unlikely that they’d win the Super Bowl. After all, they would have to win three playoff games and they would all be on the road. That had never been done in the NFC before!

In the Wild Card game, the Packers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16 after Tramon Williams intercepted Michael Vick’s pass to preserve the lead with 33 seconds left.

In the divisional playoff round, the Packers defeated the number-one seeded Atlanta Falcons 48-21. This was notable because the Falcons were at home, and they rarely lost home games.

In the NFC Championship game, the Packers faced off against their bitterest division rivals, the Chicago Bears. It was ultimately the defense that won this ball game, as nose tackle BJ Raji intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. (It is extremely rare for a 300-pound plus nose tackle to get an interception, much less return it for a touchdown.) This interception would end up being the difference in the game as the Packers won 21-14. The game was sealed with another interception by Sam Shields.

As everyone probably knows by now, The Green Bay Packers went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl 45. Although everyone knows that the Packers were there, many may not realize how they got there. When we take a look back at everything that transpired, the journey almost seems miraculous.

After the Super Bowl ended, I just sat and pondered for a while. I thought about my Dad and wondered if he knew what happened. I thought about that night in bed when I made my silly comment to the Lord. Many would argue that what I asked didn’t make any difference. And you know, maybe they’re right. I still don’t think God cares about football. But I know He cares about me,  so maybe, just maybe, he nudged some of those interceptions a little.

There are many types of blessings we receive from God. Sometimes we’re not even aware of them when they happen. Sometimes God grants us silly things, not because we deserve it, and not because a football team deserves it, but because He’s just a good Father. Maybe my silly little request didn’t actually have an impact. All I know is that the Packers won the Super Bowl and it cheered me up. A lot.

As wide receiver Greg Jennings repeatedly said after the game, “To God be the glory!”

:)

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