On the evening of February 22nd the unthinkable and “a-never-before” occurred in a National Hockey League (NHL) game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto. David Ayres, 42 year old kidney transplant from his mom, was in the standing room only section with his wife watching this NHL match. This guy was absolutely “an over the hill” hockey player, who competed during his younger years at a no better than Amateur B level, and sometimes participated as practice goalie for the Toronto Marlies, a minor league team of the NHL Maple Leafs. During the day, Ayers worked as the operations manager at Coca-Cola Coliseum and his job occasionally included maintenance and operating an ice resurfacer which gave him the moniker of “Zamboni driver.” The evening of the 22nd, David was the emergency goalie for both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Maple Leafs. And, the improbable happened. Both goalies for the Hurricanes were injured and Ayers was thrust on the ice halfway into the game as a participant in an NHL game! What?! At the time, the Hurricanes were ahead 4-1. In the next ten minutes of the game, he allowed two goals with a whole period left to be played with “his team” now up only one goal. Between the 2nd and 3rd period, he had the courage of telling his teammates that he was now relaxed and “had their back” in the 3rd period! False bravado at the max…right?! However, with no one believing it could happen, the Maple Leafs fired eight shots and Ayers blocked everyone of them with the Hurricanes winning the match 6-3. In the history of the NHL, an emergency goalie had never won a game! To boot, he was selected the top star of the game, a post-game ritual in the NHL. How much did he get paid to play with all the millionaire competitors that evening? They gave him his game jersey (Hurricane number 90)…that’s it! Then, something else beyond comprehension for this no-name nobody hockey groupie from small town Whitby, Ontario occurred. He became the “toast” of North Carolina. Governor Roy Cooper declared Ayres, a Canadian citizen, an honorary citizen of the state of North Carolina, and Raleigh honored him by naming February 25, 2020 “David Ayres Day” in the City of Raleigh. All the major TV news channels made this the highlight sporting event of February 22nd. Do you think David Ayers ever thought this would happen to him? Absolutely not in a million years! But it did!
Do you know that God wants to use you? “Dude”, you may say, “Ain’t no way! I am barely making it through today.” This type of attitude along with the David Ayers episode reminds me of Gideon. God reached out to Gideon to lead his army during a huge battle; however, he responded in an absolutely negative way. “God, you got the wrong man! There is no way that I can be the leader that you want!”
Picture what happened as the following biblical passage unfolds in Judges 6,“11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” 13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Gideon still would have none of what God was saying to him. Some heavy-duty negotiations went on between God and Gideon. Finally, Gideon allowed the Spirit of God to move over him and he became a mighty leader who led the Israelites in a spectacular manner in a rout of the Midianite army. Gideon was a “Zamboni Driver” but God used him mightily. Read Judges 6 and 7…will be worth your time.
God wants to use YOU! “But, I am an ‘emergency goalie’…a nobody. Who am I to do anything of significance for the Lord?!” Do you know, when you share the gospel and someone responds to God’s grace, heaven takes a look and rejoices over the grace of God. In the eyes of heaven, you have become a super star. When you feed the poor or offer a hand to the hurting, you become heaven’s hero. Allow and expect God to use you, Mighty Warrior.