And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
-- John 1:12
When you were in grade school, did your classmates tend to pick you first or last when choosing teams for kickball or other playground sports? And as you got older, did you ever try out--and make--your high school football, baseball or basketball team?
There's something special about being chosen by others--and in particular--by people you respect. And it extends beyond school and sports. When you've gone through the interview process and the human resources representative finally calls to offer you a job with the company, there's nothing quite like it. After all, you've been picked over the competition to join their team.
Kurt Warner knows what it's like to be picked by a team. But he also knows a lot about rejection. The retired NFL quarterback excelled in football, basketball and baseball in high school, and even led his gridiron team to victory in Iowa's Shrine Bowl. This success, however, failed to translate into a big name college scholarship. So for the next three seasons, Warner rode the bench at the University of Northern Iowa until his senior year. It was then that he guided the Panthers to an 8-3 record while garnering honors as Offensive Player of the Year.
As good as Warner was in college, no NFL team picked him in the draft. He stayed in shaped and supported himself financially by stocking shelves in a supermarket. And before long, he joined an Arena Football team. NFL scouts eventually noticed his talent, but he was cut during tryouts for the Green Bay Packers. Warner finally broke through by starring in the NFL's now defunct European League, and later signed a contract as the Los Angeles Ram's third-string quarterback. The following year, when the starting quarterback suffered a season-ending injury, Warner got his chance. And he responded by leading his squad to a 13-3 record and an unlikely victory in the Super Bowl.
"People think this season is the first time I touched the football; they don't realize I've been doing this for years--just not on this level--because I never got the chance," Warner told reporters. "Sure, I had my tough times, but you don't sit there and say, 'Wow, I was stocking groceries five years ago, and look at me now.' You don't think about it, and when you do achieve something, you know luck had nothing to do with it."
Although he was now a champion quarterback, Warner still faced obstacles in his career. For a short time, he accepted a stop-gap assignment with the New York Giants as they groomed another future Super Bowl quarterback, Eli Manning. Eventually traded to the Arizona Cardinals, Warner played in his second Super Bowl, where he threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kurt Warner is an unabashed Christ-follower who's quick to give God the credit for his successes--both on and off the field. He wasn't always picked first on his sports teams. And he wasn't immune from failure and disappointment. But his gifts and talents always showed through...and the scouts and coaches noticed.
If you've ever been overlooked or experienced disappointment on the playground, the office--or even in your own home--never forget that God has a plan for every Christ-follower. That's no promise that you'll ever lead your team to the Super Bowl. But you're still guaranteed to be His first round draft pick.