Today’s post is not just for men, but for everyone who has a man in their life, whether it be their father, husband, son, uncle, nephew or friend. Father’s Day just passed which has a different impact on you depending on what your relationship is with the man you call Father, Dad or Daddy. I shared about my Father in the post called ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★, about my parents divorcing when I was 5 years old and how my relationship with my father was nonexistent from the age 12 until we reconnected at the 36. There was hole in my heart for many years that drove me to need approval from others. The muse for this Thought came shortly after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro had finished and I saw this interview that Michael Phelps did for ESPN called “The Evolution of Michael Phelps” that blew me away! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IT BEFORE CONTINUING TO READ THIS POST, it’s worth it and it is the backbone for this post. I have always been a fan of Michael Phelps even after the infamous “bong photo” hit the front page of the newspaper six months after the Beijing Olympics in 2014. Retirement it seems, gave the Olympian way too much time on his hands. As I watched the video, I was reminded of what Proverbs 16:27a (TLB) warns:
“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”
Boredom opened the door for the enemy to attack and much like we have been talking about in our Temptation Series, Michael yielded to many self-destructive behaviors. When the photo of Phelps using marijuana was released, it was incredible how the world turned on him. Parodies and jokes were everywhere and of course shock that he blew it. It’s interesting that the world we live in is always looking to find someone to idolize but it seems that they love it even better when someone crash and burns! The media news outlets love the “fall from grace” stories – “If it bleeds, it leads” unfortunately.
In addition to addressing the photo, the interview gave insight into the swimmer’s life about his complicated relationship with his father, Fred, his second DUI arrest in 2014 and the time that he spent in a Behavioral Rehab Facility in which he contemplated suicide after the second DUI arrest in 10 years! As I watched the brokenness of Michael Phelps over the void that his father’s absence created, I could not help but compare how not having my father in my life not only influenced, but shaped my life to continually strive for the approval of others.
Though to the rest of the world saw Michael Phelps as an unstoppable machine in the water and a picture of perfection and excellence, Michael was silently dying inside and had reached the point of no return in September of 2014. It is hard to believe that the man who “is the greatest Olympian of all time,” winning (23) medals, (19) – being gold winning at the point in 2014 would make this statement:
“I was a train wreck; I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. It was not good, I felt lost.”
BUT that is how the enemy works! You can have the adulation of the world, be on the top of your profession or head of the class and still end up feeling worthless and alone. That was my story too, though I was far from an Olympian, I had success in my life and still felt empty inside as well. If the most decorated Olympian in history could feel this way at the age of 31, how many other people are struggling with the same insecurities, the same father wounds and the same addictions that threaten to take them out? My prayer is that God would use me to take back territory that the enemy has stolen and to be a friend like Ray Lewis was to Michael Phelps to help lead people out of the darkness. The video revealed how Michael’s friend and former linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, came alongside of him. Ray gave him the book called “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?” by Rick Warren which helped Phelps to come out of the darkness his was in. I love what Rick Warren said in the book:
Boy if we could grasp this, how different would this world be? Like me, Michael Phelps parents divorced when he was young (age 9) and he too had his own “father wound” that scarred and imprisoned the Olympian to also strive to be better than everyone else to achieve the acceptance from his father that alluded him. BUT that does not have to be how the story ends! You may be reading this today with a similar story of not having the greatest earthly father, but I want you to know there is a Heavenly Father who can be all that you never had and more. God is in the business of changing lives and rewriting even the most tragic story. We all love a comeback story and that is what can happen to you if you just trust that God is a good, good Father! It doesn’t matter what you did, how badly you sinned, it only matters what you do next! Will you continue in the downward spiral or will you turn things around and repent. That is what God did for me and for Michael Phelps.
As a result of Michael embracing “a higher power” as he referred to God in the interview, and working through his broken relationship with his father, Phelps came back and won another (4) gold medals and (1) silver in Brazil just 2 years after his life hit rock bottom!
Shortly after the 2016 Rio Olympic, I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★ in which I shared about a wonderful moment that I had with my mom when went to Washington DC in 1996 and she to was able to touch the Olympic Torch as the relay went through the Nation’s Capitol on the way to the Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia. The Historic Relay with the Torch has been a huge part of opening ceremonies and for the past 10 months I have been mulling over this Thought for the Day about what exactly does it mean to “Be the MAN to Carry the Light?” I saw this image
and the powerful symbolism that the Torch is for the Olympic games and realized that it also has a spiritual connection to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)…
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
We are to Be The Light! To let it shine as we carry it wherever we go, sharing it with everyone we come into contact with. As a husband and father I realize the immense responsibility that I have as to constantly be checking where I am at in my personal walk with God in order to be an effective leader in my home. As a man, this is a God-given role that we must take very serious. I read this from Charles Stanley that I thought was really good…
“Sometimes we mistakenly think that Grace excuses us from the hard work of growing spiritually. It doesn’t. The Bible says that “because of practice” we have our “senses trained to discern good and evil” (see Hebrews 5:14). That means we grow by allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us, by obeying God, and by making godly decisions.”
Grace is at the heart of the Christian faith. God is always one prayer away, ready to forgive and restore us just as He did for Michael Phelps, BUT we still have to put in Olympian-like effort to stay the course and live out our lives to make impact on the world. We all what to make a difference in this life to be remembered by those in our life, I know I do. My heart’s desire is to be a world changer, first to my wife and daughters and then to anyone God would send my way in order to break through the darkness and the hold that the enemy had on this world! John 1:5 (ESV) says::
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
My constant prayer is that God would help me to overcome the attacks of the enemy in both my life and in the lives of others! That I would be of value for the building of His kingdom here on earth! John 8:12 (NLT) says:
“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’”
Jesus gave us the model to emulate. I want to be more like Jesus in every way! Something that I often pray is for Him to direct me, to mold me and use me for HIS glory! To be the man to carry the light for the building of His kingdom! I will close with this thought from John Eldredge that he wrote in the pocket booklet called “You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs to Know”:
“You, Dad, are the most powerful man in the world…At least in their world…Never forget that no one is as powerful as you are in the lives of your sons and daughters.
Mother is love and tenderness and mercy. She is a picture of the heart of God.
But identity – especially gender identity – is bestowed by the father. A boy learns if he is a man, if he has what it takes, from his dad. A girl learns if she is worth pursuing, if she is lovely, from her dad. That’s just the way God set this whole thing up. This power He has given to you.”
I want to leave you with this challenge to impart to your son that he has what it takes, and/or if you have a daughter make sure she know that she is lovely and worthy to be pursued! Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (ESV) instructs:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
That is what a man who is worthy to carry the light does!
If you want to learn more about healing Father Wounds, check out John Eldredge book called “Wild At Heart – Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.”
Or you can watch the weekend retreat event call “Wild At Heart Boot Camp” on RightNow Media.
If you want to learn more about making a difference, check out:
If you are interested here are posts focused on what I learned from James MacDonald’s book called “Act Like Men, 40 Days to Biblical Manhood.”
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