Michael Vick’s story fascinates me and I think it’s because his life just reeks of potential. Obviously he’s a tremendous playmaker on the football field, and I just happen to live with two devoted Philadelphia Eagles fans. But what’s more important is the potential Michael Vick has off the field, because as a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe in second chances and redemption and I get excited about the idea of someone like him living out, for all the world to see, the change that is possible in Christ. Not that I’m sure Michael Vick is doing this. After all, I don’t know him personally and am in no way faithful about keeping up with his life, but in my heart I just long for him to be changed. Great stories are stories of overcoming, of using the hardest, the ugliest and most painful things in our lives to glorify God. And this is what I want for Michael Vick. This is what I pray for Michael Vick.
On Monday I was listening to The Diane Rehm Show and fortunately Ms. Rehm was out that day because I’m not particularly fond of her painfully slow and methodical speech. But the guest host was talking about dog fighting and pit bulls and rehabilitating dogs that are rescued from fighting rings. It was sad but interesting, and the panel of guests were dog fighting experts taking calls from listeners. One gentleman called in to say that he didn’t know why they were ignoring the real issue which was race. He said that Michael Vick had been made the poster child for dog fighting and that it was a racial issue. This momentarily struck me as overwrought. There was a part of me that said, “no, that’s not true.”
But then one of the guests disagreed with the caller and said something to the effect that if it had been Peyton Manning instead of Michael Vick, he would have been treated the same way. Does that ring true for you? Because it really doesn’t for me. I don’t feel at all confident that Peyton Manning also would have gone to jail, that he also would have been the dog fighting poster boy, that through free association the immediate response to “dog fighting” would be “Peyton Manning.”
But maybe the race element can also be part of Vick’s redemption. Like Esther, maybe his whole life has been preparation for such a time as this. Maybe this incredible athlete, who in his young life has experienced tremendous highs and lows, can bring hope and grace to many. Michael Vick does profess to be a Christian and the message of the Bible is that no experience is wasted for a follower of Christ (Romans 8:28). God can use it all, turning ashes to beauty (Isaiah 61). Will you pray that Michael Vick will seek to honor God with his life? It’s obvious that God can use him, but God isn’t playing with little dolls here on earth. We always have a choice. Will you pray that Michael Vick makes wise ones?
Do you have people in your life who have incredible potential? Of course you do. I do too. These painful, difficult stories that we have witnessed all around us are ashes waiting to be transformed. May we be faithful in praying for these friends and their stories. And may we seek to honor God with our own lives, trusting that the hardest things we endure can be the means by which we glorify Him the most.