It’s that time of year when I always watch the movie Hoosiers. As you may already know, it is the story of how a high school basketball team from the fictitious town of Hickory, IN went on the win the State Basketball Final in 1952. It is based on the true story of how the small town of Milan won the Basketball State Championship in 1952 when Bobby Plump scored the last basket for the win in Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. I have already watched the movie once this season before last week-end and a second time on Saturday night.
What made this even more special for me is that our niece Emily, who is a freshman at Butler University, home of Hinkle Fieldhouse, is with us in Carmel this week-end and she had never seen the movie. And it’s incomprehensible to me that anyone who attends college in Indiana has never seen Hoosiers – it’s a classic – and one I never get tired of watching it, especially in the fall of the year.
Earlier this season Janet and I sat down to watch the movie when it appeared on one of the more obscure channels and we were disappointed that so many parts of the movie were cut out in favor of TV commercials. This week-end when we saw the entire uncut version, we counted a number of scenes that we missed several weeks before. Almost without fail, they were the scenes that referred to prayer or had religious overtones to them. It was like the movie was sanitized of everything that referenced God.
But the truth of the matter is that back in the fifties, and the sixties for that matter, it was common for schools, athletes and the entire community to focus on the religious aspects of life in small towns. Religion was more a way of life than it is today for many people. Unfortunately, we live in a time when it is more politically correct to ignore the faith based aspects of life in the city. And although an overwhelming number of people profess a belief in God and Jesus Christ, actions more times than not just don’t bear it out. Most of the media is liberal and it seems that the more than ever before it just isn’t popular to mention religion and a commitment to God or Jesus Christ.
The main theme of the movie is that premise that the underdog can, and on occasion does, win. In fact, all things are possible with God. I wish we had more movies that underscored this most foundational truth. Of course, God expects us to take the first step and do the hard work associated with doing everything we can do to advance out own cause. But it is very important for us to realize that while we are responsible for the work, the result is God’s domain. Any knowing that takes quite a bit of the pressure off.
We just can’t control the outcome – it’s out of our control. And when it seems that we just can’t possibly achieve something that is out of the realm of possibility, God sends us a surprise. The verse for tonight is one that was used in Hoosiers. The scene unfolds as the Hickory basketball team is about to compete in the state championship. They are scheduled to play a team that is better, from a much larger school, and is expected to win.
The pastor, father of one of the Hickory players, offers a pre-game prayer. He chose a verse from 1 Sam. 17:49 “And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.” This is the famous story of David and Goliath. David did the work, and God delivered the result – the death of Goliath.
This verse comes at a very poignant time in the movie – yet it is cut out from the versions that are shown on TV or edited for length. My encouragement tonight is to affirm that all things are possible with God – even those things that seem impossible. My prayer is that you will do the work in order that God can deliver the result. After all, too many people today expect God to do the work and deliver the result – and that’s just not the way it works. I pray that you will have the fortitude to test God in this. He promises results consistent with His will for your life. In the meantime, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…