Vintage Jesus


The following story is from Matt Woodley, editor of


On August 31, 2002, Phil Brabbs, a placekicker with the University of Michigan, lined up for the most important field goal attempt in his career. With five seconds left on the clock and his team trailing the Washington Huskies 29-28, Brabbs entered the game to try a 44-yard field goal. About 100,000 Michigan fans had stayed to watch.

Up to this point in the game, Brabbs wasn't having a good day. His first field goal attempt sailedwide left. In the second quarter he missed again. At halftime Brabbs was booed by the sellout crowd as he jogged to the locker room. Before the third quarter he missed every one one of his warm-ups, all to the left. As a result, coaches benched Brabbs.


But after the backup kicker also missed a crucial field goal, Brabbs had another chance for redemption. As the time expired on the clock, his 44-yard kick flew between the uprights, giving Michigan a 31-29 win. A hundred teammates mobbed Brabbs while the fans cheered him. "I could have died right there," Brabbs said, "and I'd have died happy. I was like a presidential candidate." Even to this day, his game-winning field goal is simply called "The Kick."


But soon after "The Kick," a major injury sidelined Brabbs. He quit the team, graduated with a degree in engineering, landed a job with an IT company, married his college sweetheart, and had three children. But ten years later, in the summer of 2012, Brabbs, a committed Christian, was asked to deliver the commencement address at Frankenmuth High. He knew everyone was expecting him to mention "The Kick," but instead Brabbs looked at the students and said, "Be a failure. It's the misses that propel you forward [in life.]"


In a personal blog post, Brabbs expanded on that message:


“Ten years later…. I am now thankful for the misses, because to this day, they are helping guide me through some of life's toughest challenges … So let's raise our glasses to the many misses we have in life, whether missed field goals, snaps that got away from you, or an occasional botched hold. Those dark moments may just be the predecessor of a really great moment.”


Matt realized that his failures were not permanent.  They could lay the groundwork for something bigger and better. Paul reminds us that Jesus says, “my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).”


All of this is a reminder that Jesus is in the redemptions business.  He works with God to make the world better for those who trust in him (or for even those who don’t trust him).  John wants us to see that when he tells us about the first miracle that Jesus performed.  We’ll talk about it this Sunday.