I want to tell you a story. There was a young man that dreamed of being a professional football player. He came from a tough environment. He didn’t have much. But he did have a family that loved him and coaches who believed in him. Football was his life. He worked hard. He excelled in college football and eventually became a professional football player. Despite achieving his goal, the satisfaction he wanted still eluded him.
For six years, he lived his dream. But then it happened. On a routine play, he tore a ligament in his knee and broke his leg. He laid on the field engulfed in pain. He knew that his career was over. The dream had come to a painful end. Fearful thoughts overwhelmed his mind:
- Who will I be without football?
- What career path will I take? All I can do is play football.
What he did not know was that God had a dream for him. Because he was injured and couldn’t play football, he read his Bible for hours a day. And the more he read his Bible, the more he fell in love with Jesus and wanted others to fall in love with Jesus. Instead of seeing himself playing football, he began to see himself standing before people proclaiming the love of Jesus. Over the course of a few short years, this young man went from playing professional football to preaching the gospel around the world. He and his wife went on to start a church and write books. As the young man looked back on his journey, what he thought was going break him, God has used to remake him. The remade young man is now an older man typing these words. In God’s care, even bad things become good. God has a way of working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28-29). And prayer is how we begin to trust God even in the darkness of the bad.
The following is excerpted from God, Do You Hear Me? Discover the Prayer God Always Answers, by Dr. Derwin L. Gray, (B&H Publishing); Release Date October 5, 2021.
“The Lord’s Prayer is a gift hiding in plain sight. And as we learn to pray it, immerse ourselves in it, delighting and dwelling in the Holy Spirit, we will begin to see that even the bad things can work for our good. Because of the redemption we have in Christ, our scars now bear witness to God’s sovereign love. In God’s sovereign compassion, our scars become testimonies. What we thought was meant to break us, Abba uses to make us. “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people” (Gen. 50:20). It is an astonishingly beautiful thing that God is working in and using all things—not some things but all things—to form the image of the Messiah in his children.
You may have a hard time believing that. Really, Derwin? All things? You don’t know about the bad stuff that’s happen to me. Surely there’s some stuff that is outside of God’s control. But believe it or not, even the worst atrocity in human history— the murder of Jesus—became the means of redeeming humanity and all of creation. Let the sovereign presence and power of Abba comfort you (Acts 2:22-24).
If God can bring the greatest good in the history of creation out of the greatest evil in the history of creation, surely he can work together everything in our lives for our good! When we pray “Our Father,” we are praying to our loving, sovereign Abba, who invites us into Jesus’ story of redemption. We, as Abba’s Spirit-empowered kids, become his sovereign means by which he heals and restores people and all of creation, from the tiniest atom to the greatest ocean. All things will be made new.
When we pray “Our Father,” we are communing with our loving, sovereign creator, who holds us near his heart. Our Father’s sovereign love means he is acting in wondrous and mysterious ways in history to “bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him” (Eph. 1:10). Our Abba is great and unmatched in his glory, and he loves to hear his beloved children call his name.”
Dr. Derwin Gray is co-founder and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped church near Charlotte, NC. He has been married since 1992 and has two adult children. He played college football at Brigham Young University and went on to play with the 6 seasons in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts (1993-1997) and the Carolina Panthers (1998). Derwin earned a Doctor of Ministry in the ‘New Testament in Context’ at Northern Seminary. He is the author of several books including the national bestseller, The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness and his most recent book, God, Do You Hear Me? Discovering The Prayer Jesus Always Answers. Learn more about Derwin at DerwinLGray.com