In that post, Dave Burchett talks about two major sports figures: Barry Bonds, and Michael Irvin (former Dallas Cowboys player). He compares them, pointing out how Barry Bonds' attitude has made him difficult for many people to like, and reminding us how Michael Irvin was once just like him. Then he talks about the acceptance speech Irvin made as he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame last weekend. (I didn't hear that speech, of course - I've already told you I pay little attention to sports - but I'm very glad Burchett commented on it.) Here's what he had to say.
Michael Irvin seems to be a changed man. On a day when he was being recognized as one of the best football players to ever take the field you would expect that Irvin would display more than a little pride in his athletic giftedness. He chose to humbly confess his sinfulness. I believe it took more courage to utter some of the words Irvin spoke Saturday than it took to catch a pass knowing that a linebacker was drawing a bead on his chest.
Irvin started with a prayer. He alluded to the success on the football field. But the comments that won my respect were his up front and honest confessions at a event that rarely sees such moments. This excerpt from The Dallas Morning News is a sample of Irwin's amazing speech.I did not used to be a fan of Number 88. He is winning me over. Partly because he could play at the highest level of professional sports. But mainly because he was man enough to recognize his mistakes, humble himself before his Savior, realize what really matters, and confess all of that when he really did not need to.
Then came some very personal and emotional apologies for his failures off the field during the 1990s – the parties, the women, the drug arrests.
He spoke directly to his wife, Sand, bringing a tear to her eye.
"For better or worse – those are the vows we take before God in marriage," Irvin said. "It's easy to live with the 'for better,' but rarely can you find someone who sticks around and endures the 'for worse.'
"Sand, my wife, I have worked tirelessly to give you the 'for better.' But I also gave you the 'for worse' – and you didn't deserve it. You didn't deserve it."
Irvin broke down in tears about 21 minutes into his speech when he addressed his sons, Michael and Elijah.
"That's where my heart is," Irvin said of his sons. "I say to God, 'I have my struggles, and I made some bad decisions, but whatever you do, don't let me mess this up.' I say, 'Please help me raise them for some young lady so that they can be a better husband than I.' "
And suddenly a night dedicated to football had nothing to do with football at all.
Dave Burchett goes on to discuss the value of redemption, the impact it can make on a person's life, and the power of God to redeem anyone (even Barry Bonds). He concludes with this:
I never would have believed that Michael Irvin would move me so much while he was living his former life. That is what redemption is all about. A Savior who stands always ready to meet us at the moment we turn to Him. Michael Irvin did it. I did it. Barry Bonds is not a bigger sinner than me or Michael Irvin. We are all the same in the eyes of a Holy God . All of us, whether rich or poor, famous or anonymous, face the same question about how we can be reconciled to God. Paul summarizes it nicely in Romans.How badly I need this reminder! It's so easy for me to look critically at others, especially those "superstars," and blame them for the way they behave. But God is able to take those people, just as He took me, and redeem them. He can take lives that are worthless today, and give them eternal value. His redemption can change people forever.This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Paul goes on to say that we can not take credit for any of this.Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.
Redemption is available for all of us. Even super stars.
And that's a good lesson to remember, whether we're interested in sports or not.