Dark Horses

March Madness has finally arrived!  It’s time for this year’s college basketball tournament – arguably the most exciting and compelling event in sports viewing these days.  (I said “arguably” for all you Super Bowl, World Cup, and Masters fans.)  I think that most fans find this tournament exciting for two main reasons. First of all, it is a “one-and-done” tournament, which means if you lose, you go home.  So every game is packed with pressure, intensity and drama.  Secondly, it seems that each year a low-rated, previously unknown, “Cinderella” team emerges to win a few games, take out some favorites and play to America’s fascination with the underdog.

Another term that is sometimes used for these “Cinderella” teams, is one that the alternative, Christian band Switchfoot has given as a title to a recent song – “Dark Horses.”  The term began as, what else, horse racing parlance.  A dark horse was (and is) a race horse not known to gamblers and thus difficult to place betting odds on.  Nowadays it is used to describe any little known person or team in politics, sports, or film that seems unlikely to succeed or that emerges to prominence.

In their song, Switchfoot sings:

Hey, you can’t count us out
We’ve been running up against the crowd
Yeah, we are the dark horses
We’re singing…
Wait! It’s not over now
We’ve been down but we’ve never been out
Yeah, we are the dark horses

In writing about the song, lead singer Jon Foreman says, “for me the true underdogs are the people who didn’t choose their situation, but are rising above it.”  He goes on to talk about how dark horses speaks of homeless kids in his hometown of San Diego, and other “downtrodden victims of the world.” (read Jon’s article here.)

In some ways, we might think of the Church as a dark horse in the world today.  The culture isn’t paying us much attention anymore.  We’re viewed as “quaint” and “nice” but as an institution that is largely irrelevant and past its prime.  Hypocrisy and arrogance among church leaders has further cut our legs out from underneath us.

Our belief, however, is that this race isn’t over yet!  Our hope is not based on what we see around us and our confidence is not shaken by how many other “horses” may be surging ahead of us.  Instead we keep running as we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

So keep running my friends!  Keep rising above!  In your workplace, in your school, in your family in your circumstances.  You may be a dark horse to the world around you, but your Father in heaven knows exactly who you are!  He believes in you!  He’s with you even now!

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