From Pastor Paul:

Every year when the NCAA men’s basketball tourney takes place I am often reminded of past tourneys and feats of heroics (and no I’m not referring to IU’s 5 National Championships, sorry Boilermaker fans). In mid-March every year teams take the stage with high hopes of going as far as they can in the tourney regardless of the odds.


One tourney that sticks out as one of my favorites took place in 1983. That year the North Carolina State Wolfpack won eight consecutive games which propelled them into the title game.  They faced the University of Houston Cougars, whose twin towers, Clyde Drexler and Hakeen Olajuwon, had earned the nickname “Phi Slamma Jamma.”


Experts considered the championship match an afterthought. Houston needed to go only through the motions. But the Wolfpack had other ideas. Another contest as an underdog didn’t faze Jim Valvano’s team.


NC State used the same strategy that had carried it on its winning streak. The team stuck to a controlled offense, tight defense, and planned to foul late to force Houston into pressure free throws. The tactics worked well. The Wolfpack led 33-25 at the half.


Houston regrouped and went on a 17-2 run. With three minutes remaining, the Cougars forged ahead 52-46. NC State began to foul. The plan worked. Houston missed free throws, and the Wolfpack hit buckets.


With the score tied at 52, Valvano ordered his team to work for the final shot. But the Pack’s offense wasn’t clicking and time ticked away. Dereck Wittenberg fired a desperation shot that touched nothing but air. Suddenly, two monstrous hands reached up, grabbed the ball, and stuffed it through the hoop as the buzzer sounded. The hands belonged to NC State’s Lorenzo Charles. The Wolfpack reigned as the NCAA Basketball Champs.


NC State proved that things don’t always go as planned. The strongest and the swiftest don’t always win. The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote: “I have seen something else under the sun: the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise nor wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)


Time and chance happen to all. And God controls both. Let that be a reminder to us as we continue the work God has called us to here at Calvary. The Wolfpack’s 1983 championship season is a powerful statement as to what can be accomplished if one stays focused on the task at hand. As we move forward in ministry let us continue to pray for the readiness to receive the unexpected from God.


See You Sunday, Pastor Paul


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