ESPN Was My Daily Devotion?!

4 06 2010

Never in a million years did I ever think I’d actually be writing something meaningful about sports.

But right now, my husband has control of the remote, and he’s insisting on watching ESPN.

My dear husband is addicted to sports—and unfortunately, also has a penchant for writing, which manifests itself in the form of posts on endless NBA and MLB discussion boards. He’s won unofficial “most popular” awards in those very forums, and even has professional basketball insiders who contact him with private information before anyone else knows anything.

In fact, he literally impacted the entire NBA by being the first to leak pictures of several new team logos before they were officially released—which actually caused at least one team to scramble and eventually modify their new logo, out of public embarrassment over the premature leak.

Yep. My husband. He’s a darn good writer, and has a heck of a nose for networking over the Internet.

If only he applied a fraction of the energy he spends on his sports posts on our laundry, instead.

However, despite my chagrin at watching a sports show with him, I find myself drawn to the story of Ricky Williams, which is playing right now.

Ricky Williams was a Heisman winner, an NFL superstar, drafted first by the Saints and then the Dolphins. He was an odd character who abruptly quit football in his prime, in 2004.

Ricky Williams, in his prime


Ricky’s departure from football shocked the world. As one friend said, “He threw away all of things we value—money, fame, his celebrity status–everything.”

As another person said, “He blew people’s minds, because he consciously and conspicuously ran away from the American dream.”

As Ricky said simply to his sister at one point, his calling wasn’t football—he felt his gift was helping to “heal people”. He walked away from his mega-star, glamorous life, to live in a small house and live a life of simplicity, quietly dabbling in holistic medicine.

Eventually, Ricky rejoined the NFL he abandoned—but never again to be the superstar he once was.

What intrigues me with this whole story of Ricky Williams is that he’s been so utterly lambasted for walking away from money, fame, and fortune. He’s estimated to have lost out on over thirty million dollars in his career. Of course, Ricky has a lot of complicated issues—including a rocky past that included drug abuse.

But, in his own words, “People don’t find spirituality until they hit rock bottom. My goal was to be rich and famous and have everyone love me. And I worked and worked, and eventually I was rich and famous and everyone loved me. But, I lost any chance of knowing who I was. When you’re rich and you’re famous, what sort of stress could you possibly have? But, I got deep into spiritual stress…I hit rock bottom. But [during the last few years of learning I had], the money I lost wasn’t a big deal, compared to the experiences I had.”

I can’t help but thinking whether the way people view Ricky Williams is the same way people viewed Jesus, when He lived on this earth.

No doubt people were confused by Jesus—clearly, people are unsure of what to make of Him even now. Just like Ricky abandoned everything that we would want—recognition, influence, fame, fortune—Jesus continually shied away from those same things.

People just had to wonder about Jesus.

Why would someone with the power to upend the universe with His pinky not want to flex His miraculous muscles every once in a while?

Why wouldn’t He summon down heavenly fire and a whole host of angels to force the entire world to its knees, to recognize that He truly was the Son of God?

Why would He give His very life to save people who would never really understand Him, and would write Him off as a liar and a lunatic?

Why would He continually offer love and grace to people who spit out His name as a dirty, polluted word?

Like Ricky, whose choices and preferred way of life are difficult for me to understand, I don’t think I’ll ever really understand who Jesus is and how He remained perfect and unwavering in His commitment to save my soul.

But, He did.

Just don’t tell my husband that I actually got something out of watching ESPN with him.




2 responses

9 06 2010

Come on. . . ESPN IS my WORD. Well, maybe not. But it’s #3… God, Beth and ESPN. I have my priorities straight.


13 11 2010

Ha! I just found your post and man do we have a whole lot in common!


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