It is amazing how God can use “normal” things in everyday life to draw us to Him. One of the coolest stories that I have come across was that of a man that I met 15 years ago at a conference I attended. I was there on my own and found myself sitting next to a guy before one of the sessions. We struck up a conversation, and he told me how he came to know that God was real. He went with some people from his church to a Promise Keepers conference. While there, he heard some things from the Bible that stirred his heart a little. But he was not completely convinced. He prayed a prayer asking God specifically for a “flashing sign” to show that He was real. He went into a session of worship and teaching and as the band played, to his surprise, God gave him what he asked for. This man’s name was Roland and from where he was standing, as the singer rocked back and forth one song, the name brand of the key board came in and out of view. So as he watched the stage, he saw “Roland! Roland! Roland!” He remembered his prayer for a flashing sign and was amazed at how God worked it out. He committed to following Christ that night.
Cool story of how God used the brand name of a keyboard to draw a man to himself. For Blue Jays legendary slugger Joe Carter, his flashing sign was actually blue jays. As you can read in this article from sportscollectorsdigest.com it was a dream that led him to stay in Toronto instead of leaving for a more lucrative contract from the Royals. He had just been part of the World Series champs in 1992 and his contract was up. The Jays offered a 3 year deal. The Royals approached with a 4-year offer for more money. Then, the dream. Joe said “I went to bed one night and I had a dream. I saw myself walking with Devon White (his Blue Jay teammate in 1992) to a stadium and I was dribbling a basketball. Why I had a basketball, I don’t know, but it was pitch black when we walked in and the scoreboard said, ‘Welcome to SkyDome.’’ That was sign No. 1. The next sign came when he awoke and his wife told him to look out the window. He saw blue jays all over his backyard.”
Carter sees the dream and the appearance of blue jays, not unseen but rare in Kansas City, as a sign from God. He says “I figured God was making it pretty clear to me what I should do”. So he re-upped with the Blue Jays, and they would go on to win it all again. They won in 6 with Joe Carter hitting a walk-off homer that is among the most memorable moments in baseball history. Most Canadians know where they were when this home run was hit. I was sitting in the front seat of a car as a leader at Scout Camp, waiting for another leader to return to the camp with my sleeping bag. (Another long story for a different time). Anyway, in case you have never seen it, here is Joe’s moment.
The result of this home run was not only a win for the Blue Jays and a legacy moment for Joe Carter, it increased his platform size as people would love to hear his story. With that platform, he has shared the excitement of the moment and also his desire to honor God through his life. From the book “Famous People Speak about Jesus” Carter shares “I am thankful and I give honor to God, and to my Savior, Jesus Christ. And I say that because you see a lot of athletes nowadays on TV say, `I want to thank God for the game that I had and thank God for what He’s done for me.’ But what God are they really talking about? I found myself listening to that and said `I want to be different because I want to leave no doubt as to who I am talking about and who I’m serving and that is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ I want to really emphasize that because He is the true leader of my life and that the way I want to be remembered.”
My takeaways from Carter’s story:
1- No Insignificance with God – By themselves, there is nothing spectacular about a blue jay in your back yard or a Roland keyboard, yet God used these items to guide people to understanding His plan for them. What has God used in your life that really show His creativity. How has He shown up in unexpected ways to show Himself to you and demonstrate his Love, forgiveness and grace to draw you close? God is not undone by our skepticism and He doesn’t abandon us in our unbelief. Instead, he patiently shows Himself in ways that can only be orchestrated by the Maestro of creation. But the other part that we can’t miss is that He also takes care of the little things, the things that we have not dared to share with other people, the quiet doubts and concerns that we may have. He patiently shows up to calm all of those and show us He is real, He is with us and He has an amazing adventure for us.
2- Legacy moment – Joe Carter is known for a successful baseball career, but the defining moment of that career was a walk-off World Series winning Home Run in Game six of the 1993 World Series. It is only the second time in all of baseball history where the World Series was won with a walk off home run. And while that moment’s significance seems greater because of the situation and the 10’s of millions of witnesses, but if you ask my friend Roland, he would say the “flashing sign” that he was was also life-changingly significant. When God shows up and changes our life, He writes that unique part of our story which then becomes part of our legacy. How has God changed your life? Where did He show up and show a personal touch to you that drew you into his very presence. This is your legacy and He gives it to you to share and encourage others. Don’t turn away from your story. Embrace it and share it.