My freshman year at the University of Richmond was an exciting year to be a Spider fan. The men’s basketball team, led by Curtis Blair and coached by Dick Tarant, was extremely talented and enjoyed one of Richmond’s most successful seasons in history, topped off when Richmond became the first #15 seed ever to win an NCAA tournament game. I don’t think I missed a game that season, and boy was it fun! My favorite games were those that turned into blowouts in the second half. It was those games that introduced me to the guy that became my favorite player that season: Brian Muldowney.
Brian was that player that sat at the end of the bench and only got in the game in the last minute or two of a blowout. As students, we would start chanting, “Muldowney! Muldowney!” with about 4 minutes to play, and we would go crazy when Coach Tarant would signal for Muldowney to enter the game. He was the shortest player on the team; in fact, he might have been shorter than me. He wasn’t the most skilled ball-handler or a particularly incredible shooter or defender. He always tried hard in the game, and we always rooted to see him do well. However, as much as we chanted and cheered for him, there was probably not a person in that stadium on any night who, if they were the coach, would have put him in the starting lineup or played him in the game at any other time other than a blowout. He wasn’t a bad guy; he just would not have been the best choice, in most of our minds, to be an integral part of the team.
In Genesis 12, God makes a promise to Abram: “I will make of you a great nation”. From the perspective of our lower story, choosing Abram to start a nation was like putting Brian Muldowney in the starting lineup in place of Curtis Blair. Abram was 75 years old, and he and his wife Sarai, 65 years old, had not been able to have children of their own. Certainly there was somebody younger & stronger with a big family already who God could work with. Abram would have been everybody’s last choice for starting a nation. In fact, we might think Abram himself would pull back from God’s offer, afraid of looking like a fool or unwilling to experience what seemed to be certain failure.
“So Abram went, as the LORD had told him.” The thing I always remember about Brian Muldowney: whenever the coach gave him the signal, he jumped right off the bench and was ready to go. The LORD called the unlikeliest person to start a nation, and Abram got right up and went where God told him to go.
God picks people you and I wouldn’t necessarily select to take part in his story. In fact sometimes we are shocked who plays the starring roles in his stories. Unlike the way we do business, he taps people, not merely because of their abilities, but for their availability. God searches for people who are open to be used by him. Since he uses only those who are willing to be used for his purposes, there is no doubt that it is he who is doing the the wonder- working. Let there be no doubt, throughout history he is the one making things happen.
That’s good news, isn’t it? In the business world, you may not have a great pedigree. In academics, you may not be a Rhodes Scholar. You may not have a lot of money and you may have average looks. But you may be sitting in a pretty good position to be a top pick for God’s work.