“I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor” ~Judges 6:37
“Here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Jesus Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately rejected this, and as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” 1 Timothy 1:18-19
(TERINA): In the spring of 2011, I sat in the stands at John’s game, questioning how we would rebound from John’s injury. It felt as though we couldn’t go any lower, but there was no way up as well. We were floored. John recently tore his Achilles at the ripe age of 36. We were further from the Promise than ever. How could God possibly expect us to believe he meant John would put up the numbers again in the NFL! We must have this all wrong, I thought to myself. God couldn’t possibly mean the NFL. While we had received confirmations along the way, I reasoned they either had to be a coincidence or God changed His mind since our faith fell short. Maybe we were a modern day version of Israel, wilderness dwellers, who would end up dying before receiving the promise because of doubt and unbelief! (Hebrews 3:19)
Had our lack of faith failed us? Had God given up on us, his wandering sheep, long ago? As I sat in the arena, wrestling with everything, I decided I needed a sign so clear I could not question the meaning of the prophecy anymore. I needed to know once and for all exactly what God meant. I needed a fleece.
In Judges 6, we read about Gideon, who asks God to give him a sign that God was really going to do what He said. Gideon says, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand as you have said.” Sure enough, the next morning when Gideon checked the fleece, the ground was dry and the fleece was wet. Then, to be sure it wasn’t a coincidence, Gideon humbly requests another sign. This time, laying the fleece on the ground, he asks God for the fleece to remain dry and for the ground to be wet. In Judges 6:40, the Bible says, “God did so that night and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.” The Lord graciously gave Gideon the confirmation he needed. On that night, I needed a “Gideon’s fleece” of my own.
The stands happened to be the first place I had ever heard God speak, so I prayed, “God, please, if we have it all wrong, just tell me to get over it, to move on, drop it, let it go, or that we’re idiots. I can take it. I just need to know either way. We lay this Promise on the altar, like Abraham with Isaac, and I raise the knife to end this Promise once and for all, just tell us either way: Is it time to move on with our lives, or is John going to play in the NFL…not the IFL, AFL, CFL, or any other FL. Are we supposed to keep the faith in believing you mean the NFL specifically, or do we forget it and move on with our lives?”
For the rest of the game, all I did was pray, wait, and listen for God’s reply…but I heard nothing. After the game, a stranger walked up to us on the field and ran- domly said, “You know, miracles happen.” Though it was an endearing gesture, it was nothing more. I was looking for clouds in the sky to form into words saying “Yes” or “No” or something close! After the traditional post-game routine of autographs and pictures with fans, we left the stadium to go home. As we drove away, my heart broke into pieces as I faced the reality it was over. God had never answered me.
As I fought back the tears, I told John about my wrestle with God at the game and how it was over. All of it. The Promise, as well as the other prophesies and con- firmations we had received over the years, were merely a coincidence, nothing more. It felt like we had driven down a road for 12 grueling years, only to find out it was a dead end. What a waste of time!
How would I ever know how to discern God’s voice again? How would I ever know He was speaking? My faith felt thoroughly shipwrecked. I didn’t doubt God was real; I just doubted my ability to hear Him.
I felt so badly for John and all I had put him through. For years, I encouraged and challenged him to keep the faith and to stay the course. Every time he was down, I would remind him of the word and the various confirmations we had received along the way. I wouldn’t let up until I saw His faith in the Promise rise again. I’d quote verses on the phone to him after a rough game, saying, “Do not grow weary in doing good, for, in due time, you will reap the reward, if you do not give up.”
I’d insist, over and over, “John, God is faithful. He has a plan for you in football. He said so. Keep going, keep believing, keep the faith.”
Many times our faith made us look like idiots, like Noah building a boat in the middle of a desert. I felt so much despair. As I looked away, expecting a deafening silence to follow, John, with an incredulous tone to his voice, said, “I didn’t tell you what happened.”
Instantly, my heart started racing as I turned my head towards him, asking what happened. John told me, “I was standing by myself when a fan walked up to me and said, ‘I have a message for you.’ I asked from whom, assuming it was from the team doctor or the media, but he calmly looked up and pointed towards heaven to say, ‘From God.’”
“Are you serious?!” I interjected. “Oh my word, what else did He say?”
He didn’t say anything more, but handed me a wooden plaque with a cross etched into it and the words, “Keep the Faith.”
I was completely dumbfounded.
(JOHN): At this time, I had no idea Terina had prayed for God to send a fleece, a confirmation for us to stand on. I accepted the plaque, put it in my bag, and finished signing autographs. I had no idea the significance of it until Terina explained exactly what occurred between her and God in the stands.
(TERINA): I reached into his bag and pulled out the plaque. As I looked down at the words, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran my fingers across the letters carved into the wood, Keep the Faith, and contemplated all God had to orchestrate to inspire a fan to deliberately hand-carve a plaque, with a message from God, saying, “Keep the Faith,” then bring it to the game, and give it to John, at the same time I sat in the stands, pleading with Him for an answer.
In over 13 years of playing well over 200 games, nothing like this had ever hap- pened. We didn’t get the words, forget it, get over it, or move on, which I was some- what expecting; the writing in the clouds, the fleece we got was,
“Keep the Faith!!!”