Beyond the Brass Ring
My dad thought I was born to play basketball. When I was seven years old, he sat me down and said, ‘Pete, if you will let me teach you basketball, maybe one day you will play on the professional level as I did. Maybe you will be on a team that wins the world championship, and they will give you a big ring!’
My eyes lit up. I wanted that ring more than anything. I began a strict commitment to basketball. I sometimes played up 10 hours a day. I went to bed with a basketball until I was 14. When I got a bike, I learned to dribble while riding it and, later, while hanging out the passenger side of a car.
A chance that I passed
But I also discovered beer at the age of 14, and by the time I was 18, I was an alcoholic and a partier. The discipline was gone, and I played on raw talent alone.
One weekend I partied with a friend all the way out to a Campus Crusade for Christ conference. When we arrived, I saw people holding hands, plucking guitars and singing about Jesus. I wanted out of there! But I couldn’t leave. For the next three days I heard about Jesus Christ. When Bill Bright, Campus Crusade’s founder, gave an invitation to know Christ, hundreds of young people went forward. My friend, who was just like me, jumped out of his seat with tears in his eyes and gave his life to Christ.
Popular and miserable
I rejected Christ that day. I wanted no part of it. I decided that once I got the ring I would have time for God. I got back into basketball and in 1970 signed the largest contract in sports history.
But at the height of my popularity, I was miserable. I tried transcendental meditation, astro-planing, chanting and dabbled in the occult. I became a radical nutritionist and vegetarian. Then I began thinking, what happens after death? Why am I here? Is this all there is to life?
In 1980, I quit basketball out of pride and immaturity. I was bitter and I moped for two years.
A peace that lasts
One night in November 1982, I couldn’t sleep. The sins of my youth paraded through my mind. This had never happened to me before. I was up all night. I cried out to God as I faintly remembered the prayer offered at that conference 17 years earlier. I asked Jesus to come into my life. Nothing could compare to the peace Jesus gave me that night.
I eventually got back into basketball. When I finally got the ring with my name on it, Matthew 16:26 came to mind. ‘For what will a man be profited if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?’ Do you have a brass ring you are striving for today? Get rid of it and don’t look anywhere but to Jesus, who gives a peace that lasts.
Take a look at your life. How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?
Living with hope
If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.
Is this the life for you?
If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.