An exclusive Down in the ‘Dale blog post
The other day I got to thinking.
I know, sometimes sports journalists are known for their, well thinking or lack thereof, quite frankly, but I think that’s a stereotype perpetuated by the chaotic spewing of verbiage and emotions on sports talk shows and opinionated debates on live television everyday.
Anyways, I was thinking. And I thought I should tell you. (My wife would certainly appreciate that I tell her when I decide to stop and become intuitive and though-provoking once in a while)
Not about sports really, but about something much greater and much more important. Something that makes sports look like just another stop on the Monopoly board while we try to pass “Go” as often as possible.
In four short words: Our purpose for existing.
You can read many well-thought out books on the subject matter, study philosophers through the ages, and focus your attention on the teachings and truths of religious texts all you want, which I often do, and hope you’ll spend some time doing as well at some point.
But what if I told you that there are really only two options in this life? A belief in God or the belief of something other than God, including the belief in no higher power at all. I’m sure you’re thinking “Yeah, so you’re pointing out the obvious, you can either believe or not…” But hear me out.
An editorial in HM (the magazine Hard Music) caught my attention several years ago and I was reminded about it in a roundabout way when I was reading the book Crazy. Love. by Francis Chan.
I’m not hear to start a religious debate or tell you what’s right or wrong or true or false. Because I personally know the God of Jerusalem and the Father of Christ is my God. Not just from reading books like The Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell or The Case For a Creator by Lee Stobel, a former Chicago Tribune journalist who was constantly disproving God every chance he had as a young man, but from my own saving moments.
Like on the last day of my high school career. I got into the car that morning feeling cold and unaware. I didn’t know what was wrong, just that something was. I prayed for a good five minutes that God would guard me and just help me make it to my destination unharmed. The entire drive was a blur and I was copping a cold sweat, feeling as if I was about to faint.
Ten minutes later, less than a second after I had pulled into a parking spot and put the car in park — I had a seizure. I blacked out for a few minutes and it took me a few days to recouperate.
That one instance is enough for me to believe, because I tangibly felt His grace, but the fact that it’s just one of the many unexplainable “God moments” I’ve had solidifies my faith. Such as the time my 22-year-old cousin died in a freak skateboarding accident, yet somehow I was pulled through the situation with almost a numbness to how much it should hurt just because I had His presence in my corner more than ever.
Anyway, I hope I haven’t lost you. This is what I really want to ask you.
I know that faith is sometimes referred to as “blind” and I don’t pretend to have the answers to all of the questions posed in atheistic books such as The End of Faith by Sam Harris, but if you are on the fence, unsure of whether or not a higher power plays a significant role in your life….ask yourself this.
Which of these two people would you rather be, knowing that when you died you would find out either God is myth, complete fiction, or God is real after all?
(Although I feel strongly you will find the need for a Creator and guide if you spend as much time thinking about it as you do about your Facebook status or your love life, or athletic career, etc.)
SIMPLY PUT WOULD YOU RATHER BE PERSON A.) OR PERSON B.)
You have decided or determined there is no higher power, and thus you have no exact path to follow, no reason to stop yourself from doing something other than your own human understanding of wrong or right, and no clear other purpose in this life other than to do things for yourself. You might help others just as often or more than people who are committed to God and you may be known as one of the nicest people on the streets, but for what purpose? Self-gratification, just because it’s the “right” thing to do? You are constantly relying on people, who like both you and I, are full of faults and have the ability to deceive and hurt as we all know. You have a love for your friends and family, but if you think about it you can only exude a love that falls in line with our understanding of emotions and knowledge as mere humans. Best-selling author Richard Dawkins vehemently denies the existence God. Yet if he’s right, ironically, his opinion doesn’t actually matter anyways. Because nothing matters. His words are merely the empty echoes of inanimate chemical reactions firing away in the evolving synapses of his brain. Similarly, Francis Crick is more eloquent in the book “The Astonishing Hypothesis”, written in the mid 1950s. He writes: “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will are, in fact, no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” If you are Person A everything truly revolves around you even if you are giving completely of yourself, because you believe everything starts and ends with you, and no greater power exists for which to live.
If you are this person it should be first noted that you don’t attest to know everything, but you decide to trust in and have faith in the one sovereign God, with a view on eternal life and on living with the Bible as your guide. When tragedy strikes or failure occurs you don’t rely on yourself, instead you turn in earnest to the One who knows you inside out, in hopes of finding an answer to the suffering. Sometimes the answer is given quickly, while other times it may take years of praying and pleading to understand what is happening from the perspective of a God so great that trying to fully understand him is really like a small ant trying to understand the Internet. The fact is even the most educated, brilliant scientist would agree that we only know a fraction of a percent of the knowledge of the universe, so you decide to seek a personal relationship with a God who has all of the knowledge because indeed he created knowledge itself. You likely will make as many mistakes or more in your life than Person A and you will not always come off as a “Christ-like” character, as I will be the first to admit. You are absolutely no “better” than anyone else and you are as imperfectly human as homo sapiens get. But you take directives from the Bible, understanding Jesus’ messages teaching that metaphorically lust is adultery and anger is murder, giving you a conscious sense that God hard-wired us for great things but sometimes we slip off the straight and narrow path. You also try whole-heartedly to put your faith into action and tend to works of compassion through a love given to you by God, a much greater strength than that of self-righteous person — let me tell you, I try to do things my own way all the time and it is only when I accept the grace of God and cry out for His wisdom that I truly understand what I am doing. So really Person B is not that much different than Person A other than their motives and drive and a striving, seeking faith in something bigger than themselves.
Now consider this: Jesus says “I am the only way to God. I am the way to the Father.” He is either telling the truth or he is lying. For me, altruism comes out of knowing there is more than this life, that there is a sovereign God, and that I am not God. That’s the mindset of Person B. But both of us are betting….Person A is betting his life that he’s right. I’m betting my life that Jesus was not a liar. When we die, if Person A is right, I’ve lost nothing though because I still lived in a way that compelled me to consider my path, to show compassion to others and ultimately live a lifestyle that attempts to bring about few regrets. But if I’m right and everyone who says they are like Person B, then Person A has lost everything. I’m not willing to make that gamble.
And that’s why I wanted to share something with you all that is so much more important to me than sports. I cannot tell you that I am anything but a brother to every person on earth and I have personally experienced the grace and magnificent wisdom of God and Jesus. I apologize for all of my shortcomings and by no means think I have it “all figured out”, I simply wanted to ask you the question of what type of person do you consider yourself to be and what are the consequences at the end of our lives based on what we put our faith in.
If you made it to the end, thanks for reading and if you ever want to talk to me about things other than sports, including my faith, please, feel free.