Michael Vick has hit his very own lottery … literally and spiritually. The odds had long been firmly stacked against the talented quarterback, for the most part due to his own poor choices and a toxic environment, but his decision to strip away all the things that were “so easily besetting him (Hebrews 12:1)” and to focus on working hard at his craft have turned his situation completely around.
A lucrative new contract and new image are now the headlines about him as opposed to his dealings with dogfighting.
Since, according to the bible, gifts come without repentance (Romans 11:29), when Vick lost every bit of his wealth and spent time in prison for his offenses against dogs, the thing he didn’t lose was his raw talent as a standout athlete. Regardless of his post-prison choices, he had within him the power to rise again, despite PETA’s perceptibly successful hate campaign that would’ve indicated otherwise.
He just needed a little help.
Vick has made it no secret that, regardless his moral failings, he is a believer in God, a very present help in the time of trouble (Psalms 46:1). Consequently, he sought counsel from spiritual leaders while incarcerated and began to grow in his faith. Sometimes rock bottom and helplessness is what it takes for us to “get it.” He had no reason to really lean on God before, because he could lean on a stack of cash and have plenty of deceptive support. But when it’s gone, things become a little clearer and you realize you need something outside yourself to steady the ship.
The secular world may look at that as last resort or desperation faith, but His ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). God is a forgiving and “by any means necessary” God and will pick you up from the ashes of your life to restore you, given there is true repentance (Isaiah 55:7).
He said he’d never leave or forsake the believer (Hebrews 13:5) — in this case, Vick — even if he made his bed in hell. Prison in my book is pretty darn close to hell, and Vick’s God was there the whole time (Psalms 46:1), ultimately providing the clarity of mind and the road map for restoration (Psalms 16:11). This time, he’ll likely be able to sustain his blessings.
There was a little book floating around some years back, The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson that had much of the christian community reciting and believing “Jabez’s Prayer.” In a nutshell, the prayer is an earnest plea to God for prosperity, not for selfish gain, but to live the life that God originally intended for us to live. It speaks of enlarging one’s tent, lengthening of the cords and strengthening the stakes, which to me says Jabez wanted what God wanted for him, but he also wanted to have the character to sustain it. That’s something that Vick didn’t have before; he was lacking in character. He had the wealth and privilege of being a superstar athlete with the Atlanta Falcons, but he didn’t have strong enough stakes to maintain it and consequently lost it all.
How does Jabez’s prayer and all this spiritual jargon tie in with Michael Vick?
I was driving back from lunch today and was listening to Atlanta’s gospel radio station, Praise 102.5. The announcer was going on about how Vick’s recent blessing had deeply inspired her, due to the fact that 2 years ago she interviewed the then-embattled quarterback and prayed with him the prayer of Jabez. She played back the interview where she had him recite the prayer and then speak to where he wanted to be two years from then, in the from of a prophecy. He amazingly said this: “I want to be back to being recognized for being great on the field and I want to have a endorsement deals, endorsing the products of major companies.”
Now, as a “dog murderer,” as PETA had successfully labeled him, to be the face of some respected corporation was a very far-fetched concept at the time. He was just getting a shot at proving himself to the Eagles and was still haunted by his shortcomings. But the power of repentance, God’s grace and sincere belief are forces that can turn the tides of any seemingly insurmountable situation. Vick, having just signed a six-year, $100 million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Eagles and a couple of endorsement deals (including Nike) to boot, is living proof of this fact — a living testimony, if you will.
Having been to hell and back, Michael Vick has effectively picked up the pieces of his shattered life and is on his way back to the top in his profession — this time as a humble beacon of inspiration as opposed to a dark-hearted “dog killer.” His gifts have once again made room for him (Proverbs 18:16).
In the immortal words of Chris Brown, Vick can stand tall and say: “Look at me now!” Be inspired … and if you’re not a believer, simply keep it moving.