By Del Duduit
Well, the big day is next week.
My second book in the Stars of Faith series, First Down Devotions: Inspirations From NFL’s Best, kicks off Monday.
It follows Dugout Devotions: Inspirational Hits from MLB’s Best which launched in February.
Both books are from New Hope Publishers.
This devotional took me two years of interviewing professional football players and coaches in the NFL. Many of the names you may know, but there are also a few obscure people or associates of the sport who are featured.
But all have inspirational stories to tell about obstacles they have overcome through their faith.
Some of the people featured in this book are beloved and have wonderful reputations. Men like Anthony Munoz, Andy Dalton and Kurt Warner are admired and loved for their rock-solid testimonies.
But then there were some I caught some heat for discussing their challenges.
The feedback is often positive when I tell the stories of players who have risen above poverty, drugs, or feelings of discouragement. Fans seem to rally around those comeback pieces and empathize with the people who go through dark valleys.
Once they make a public apology and admit they have done wrong, all is forgiven. And that’s how it should be in life after restitution has been made if needed.
But it doesn’t always apply. People are particular sometimes on what sins they choose to forgive. They see some sins as reprehensible and unforgivable.
Poor Mike Vick, who is not featured in First Down Devotions, was never truly forgiven for his cruelty to animals. He even paid his debt to society and spent 21 months in prison. But he was tainted in the eyes of the consumer. People protested his return to the NFL.
Tiger Woods, also not in the book, had problems that unraveled his personal life as the world watched one Thanksgiving weekend due to his embarrassing moments of widespread infidelity. His wife left him and filed for divorce, he lost millions in endorsements, and his talents went south. But the sports empire along with the media and fans loved him and waited for his glorious return.
Granted, he did not commit a crime, but he did fall from grace. But he won the Masters Tournament this year, and now he’s once again back on the pedestal. Winning makes everyone forget.
In some cases.
I wrote a few weeks ago about my interview with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He faced tough scrutiny when his personal life started to fall apart a few years ago because of allegations of sexual misconduct and questionable decisions.
We spoke in Cincinnati about his journey back to God and how his struggles led him to a breaking point.
But I took heat from readers after my post ran on Athletes In Action. I received numerous comments about how I glorified a “rapist” and how I was cruel to “victims.” They allowed their one-sided emotions to come between them and the gift of forgiveness.
There were allegations; however, no charges were filed, and no arrests were made. I don’t know what happened or didn’t happen, and neither do many of the others who have protested that justice was not served. But I can tell you that Ben’s testimony to me in that locker room that day was real, and he has placed his sins under the blood of Christ.
Similar responses trickled in after a post ran that I wrote about Mark Sanchez.
In 2006, when Mark was a freshman quarterback at USC, he was accused and arrested for sexual abuse. He was released, and no charges were filed. There was no evidence. Did it happen? To some it did, although it has never been proven.
But I still fielded criticism because I told how God loves Mark and Ben and can forgive them just the same as you and me.
Are they perfect? No.
Have they made mistakes? We all have.
Will God forgive them if they ask? Yes.
The biggest obstacles to picking back up the pieces of your broken life are judgmental humans.
I’ve made monstrous goofs over my brief 52 years, but my issues have not been played out on the public stage for all to witness.
Follow me on Twitter here.
I’ve not had to answer questions on national television about my blunders. Yet, my bad choices were real.
I had to ask the Lord to forgive me, and He expected me to make restitution in my own little boring world. I had no microphones in my face. No press conferences. No paparazzi following me around.
Yet I sought forgiveness from the same Lord. I’m glad He didn’t judge me or make me wait until he forgave Ben, Mark or someone else famous.
This leads me back to my book, First Down Devotions, which releases Aug. 5. It’s really not so much about football as it is about struggles that people like you and me and Ben and Mark have encountered. We all have our own stories, and we all must realize there is a loving God who can and will forgive us.
I just happen to use famous athletes to get my point across. You may love Benjamin Watson and his testimony, but he also faced problems. And the same God who helped Benjamin has helped me.
This book brings these athletes down to a level to which we all can relate.
No one is too famous for God to love. The Lord doesn’t give priority to high-profile athletes. He cares for us all the same, and He sent His son to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind. He will forgive you, no matter your social status or athletic ability.
Just ask, and set a goal to never repeat your sins again in the future.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4: 32 KJV)
What mistakes have you made? Have you sought forgiveness?
You can pre-order my book here.
Also you can join me live on #PJNET every Tuesday at http://PatriotJournalist.com/?meta=2
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.