Born in 1947, Tom had more reasons than most to give up. He was born as a normal baby except he had no fingers on his right hand and no toes on his right foot. Actually his foot is hardly more than a stump. Most of us, if born that way, would go through life as normal as possible. But would probably shy away from the lime light. Wouldn’t even think of trying out for sports. Especially one that is actually named FOOTball. Seems like it would be a constant reminder of our deformity. But Tom wasn’t a normal kid.
He fashioned a strange looking short, flat fronted shoe for his right foot and decided to go out for the team. And of all positions, he decided to be a kicker. I know what you are saying….”he has a hammer for a foot, of course he was a kicker!”. Well before you get on that high horse, ESPN Sports Science did a study and found that he doesn’t have any advantage. In fact, they found that his kicking surface was actually smaller than a normal foot, and had a much higher degree of difficulty. Tom played his guts out for years, and eventually made his way into the NFL as a kicker for the New Orleans Saints.
So back to November 8th. The Saints were a horrible team that year. Only won two games in this forgettable season. So why am I talking about it? Well on that day, the Saints were playing the Detroit Lions. And with 2 seconds left, they were down by 1 point on their own 37 yard line. Ask any coach today what you would do and they will tell you to Hail Mary. Throw it up and just pray one of your guys catches it. But, those coaches don’t have Tom Dempsey. His coach decided to let this guy with half a foot go out there and try to kick a field goal. 63 yards. A full 7 yards…..21 feet longer than the record. He nailed it. With a few feet to spare, Tom Dempsey got the longest field goal in history. A record that still stands to this day. I was in the Football Hall of Fame a couple years ago, and got to see the shoe. It is awesome to imagine that little thing having the record.
So why am I telling you about Tom Dempsey? Because we all have things that we let keep us down. Keep us from living up to the potential that God gave you before you were even born. I see people that never use their talents because they are scared. People that try because something makes them think they will fail. But here is what is awesome about God. He wants you BECAUSE you have those deformities, because you have those scars. He wants to use you with all your mistakes and disabilities. That way, there is no mistaking the fact the HE did the great things and not you. Look at Gideon. He was the weakest of his tribe….and his tribe was the weakest of all the tribes.
Judges 6:14-15 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?” “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.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.