Read Job 37.
“Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice. . . . He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth” (vv. 2-3).
Tennessee was ready for the Dogs. But they weren’t ready for the bolt out of the blue that hit them right between the eyes — and the thighs and everywhere else. They weren’t ready for Herschel.
Freshman running back Herschel Walker didn’t start in the Bulldogs’ 1980 season opener against Tennessee in Knoxville. But as the game progressed, nothing went right for Georgia, and in the second quarter Coach Vince Dooley decided to give Herschel a try. He told offensive coordinator George Haffner, “I’m putting Herschel in. Don’t be afraid to let him carry the ball.”
Herschel didn’t do very much early on, and the Volunteers led comfortably 15-2 late in the third quarter. That’s when the lightning bolt hit, and Herschel ran to Bulldog immortality.
From the UT 16, quarterback Buck Belue pitched to Herschel. He found a hole and burst through. Near the goal line he met Tennessee safety Bill Bates, who would go on to have an excellent pro career. On this night, though, it was no contest. Herschel, “with a full head of steam, his powerful thighs churning, [ran] completely over Bates, chewing him up and spitting him out and leaving him stretched out on the Tartan turf.” Touchdown Georgia.
Then with 11:16 left in the game, Herschel took another pitch and went nine yards for his second touchdown. Georgia won 16-15.
Nobody expected what hit Tennessee that night, not even the Georgia coaches. Herschel Walker had made one of the most spectacular debuts in the history of college football, and nothing would ever be the same in Athens again.
The unexpected is “a bolt out of the blue.” It may be good, like Herschel Walker’s dazzling debut in Knoxville, or distressing, like a letter from the IRS. “A bolt out of the blue” speaks of the unpredictability of life, the power of a lightning bolt, and the workings of a divine presence.
The thunderbolt is often associated with God. Your insurance company classifies a lightning strike as “an act of God,” conceding God’s command of the thunderbolt.
This image of God — with a roar in his voice sending the lightning to all the earth — is one we often overlook. We prefer the gentle God of the April shower, the one who created bunnies and babies. But God is also lord of the hurricane and the creator of mountain lions and cobras.
From the atom to the lightning bolt, God has all the power of the universe at his disposal. Yet, he restrains it, acting toward you with gentleness and love.
I don’t think anybody on our staff had any inkling of what was to come. — George Haffner on Herschel’s debut
The awesome power of lightning pales beside God’s power to control it, and yet God acts toward you with gentleness and love.