Wild Card Weekend
On November 27th, the Washington Redskins lost their third straight game, falling to the San Diego Chargers 23-17. Fans who once hailed Coach Joe Gibbs as the team's savior no longer believed in the man who led them to multiple Super Bowl titles in the 1980's. They said the game had passed him by. And with the loss to the Chargers, the Redskins fell to an unremarkable 5-6.
But since then the Skins have made a dramatic turnaround. On December 4th , the Redskins beat the Rams on the road 24-9. Then the next week they beat the Cardinals 17-13, again on the road. In consecutive weeks, the Skins then defeated the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants and the Philadephia Eagles. This 5-game win streak was good enough to earn them a spot in the NFC wildcard game last week against the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Skins beat the Bucs 17-10 in Tampa extending their win streak to 6.
Will the Washington Redskins make it all the way to the Super Bowl? It remains to be seen. The only thing we know is that the only reason the Redskins are even in the playoffs is because the NFL allows a wildcard team into the playoffs.
A wildcard team isn't the best team. A wildcard never has a perfect record. A wildcard never wins their division. A wildcard is never expected to win the Super Bowl. No one expects much from the wildcard team. But a wildcard team gives us the chance to root for the underdog. For the underdog, it gives them the chance to prove that a team with enough determination can still make Super Bowl dreams come true.
Our Father in heaven also believes in wildcards, and allows wildcards to enter heaven. In life a wildcard person is never saintly. A wildcard may not have always walked the straight and narrow path. A wildcard is not perfect. A wildcard probably has a checkered past. A wildcard may have made a lot of mistakes along the way. But just like the Redskins, a wildcard in life still has the opportunity to turn things around and make things right.
Probably one of the best examples in the Bible of a wildcard is the thief on the cross. We don't know much about the thief, except that he was convicted to death on a Roman cross next to Jesus. If you think about all the things people do to get the death penalty, this man was probably pretty bad. Yet even so, Jesus was willing to forgive him.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. " Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Matthew 23:39-43
Are you a wildcard in this life? The good news is that it is never too late for a fresh start. If the Lord can forgive a convicted murderer like the thief on the cross for his sins, he will certainly forgive you for yours as well. Even if you not lived a perfect life, even if you have a checkered past; God still loves you and longs to bring a wildcard like you into the kingdom of heaven.
Let these words comfort you both today and this week.