A group of us watched the Super Bowl last night. We were a mixture of Viking, Cowboy, Giants and Packers fans, but we live in an area where Broncos fans predominate and as the game progressed we were all cheering for the Broncos, who eventually took firm control and emerged victorious. Immediately after the game Peyton Manning, the Broncos quarterback, was interviewed while still on the field, saying this:
“I’ll take some time to reflect. I’ve got a couple of priorities first. I want to go kiss my wife and my kids, I want to go hug my family, I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, Tracy. And I’m probably going to take care of those things first. And I’m definitely going to say a little prayer and thank the man upstairs for this great opportunity. I’m just very grateful.”
It was the phrase "the man upstairs" that jumped out at me during the interview. It is a somewhat generic statement of thanks towards God, although it seems to prompt a whole new series of questions, at least in my mind. Such as who does Manning believe God to be; what is the basis for Manning's relationship, if any, with God; and what specific opportunity is Manning referring to?
I'll confess that my mind was perhaps primed to notice this particular phrase. Just one week ago I happened to have lunch with a man and our conversation took an unexpected turn as he shared with me his history of substance abuse, and his deliverance from that abuse and an otherwise very certain early and ugly death, due to the intervention of "the man upstairs" in his life.
I will also confess that I know nothing of the faith story of Peyton Manning. I don't know what he believes, or what he considers to be nonsense.
Additionally, I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be a star on a national platform for many years, to reach the highest goal of everyone within your profession, and then, in the excitement of the moment, to be interviewed live on TV. In these circumstances, Manning's demeanor was admirable.
But to the matter at hand…"the man upstairs." If this phrase by Manning represents generic words of thanks to a generic god, it means nothing. They are empty words and they fall on deaf ears. The God of the Bible is not generic, and even better than that, He is personal. He has been revealed to the world in the person of Jesus, and when we know and believe in Him, then we should name Him as the One we are thankful to, in all times the times of our lives, good and bad.
In Acts 4, as Peter and John give their testimony before the council of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Peter ends by saying this of Jesus:
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
In the thrill of a Super Bowl victory, Peyton Manning can name his beer. May he also one day be able to know, and with confidence, name Jesus as his Savior.
And may you too, know, love, and name the Name that stand above all names, the name of Jesus.
"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be glory for ever." Romans 11:36
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.