I loved Karl Mecklenburg when I was a kid. He was one of my favorite players, and linebacker for the Denver Broncos. I don’t remember anything about this story he tells from 1987, but here it is, from his website.
I have always been an achiever. If I want something, I’m not afraid to work harder than the next guy to get it. I believe that’s how the world works, but not how God works. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to find out what I have in Jesus. I accepted Christ in high school, more as an insurance policy than anything else. My hard work and success in football made me proud, and I figured I could handle anything.
In 1987, the NFL players went on strike. I was picketing at a “replacement players game”, and signing autographs for the union workers kids, who were helping us picket. I noticed I was signing an extra autograph, so I asked if anyone was going to the game. A kid answered that he was, and because I was a union leader, because we had agreed not to promote the game by signing stuff for the fans, and because I’m a tactless fool, I took back the autograph, tore it in half, and told the kid he couldn’t have an autograph if he was going to the game. The next day, his father wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post, and my world turned upside down. I had lived for fan adoration for a long time, and now it was gone. I got death threats instead of fan mail,. The media was in a frenzy over the incident. A group in Denver formed called “Mothers Against Mecklenburg”. I tried to turn to my wife and friends for support, only to find my pride had alienated them. I had found it easier to bask in the praise of those who didn’t know me, than to act on the criticism of those who did.
This time I couldn’t handle everything myself, so I finally turned to God. I had asked Jesus into my heart 10 years earlier and basically ignored him since then. The God I now serve was still there, waiting to develop a relationship with me. I didn’t even have a relationship with my wife! How was I supposed to have one with Jesus? I was broken, and ready to learn. I opened my bible and got to know him. My wife and I fell back in love as God’s influence spread through our family. Football was still important to me, but relationships became a priority. I now believe these earthly relationships: husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, friend, brother, sister are meant to prepare you for a relationship with God. As a man I had always felt, “If you didn’t earn it, it wasn’t worth having”, but the love of Jesus is a free gift. You can’t earn it. He came so that sinners (you and me) could have everlasting life. Know that you’re a sinner, ask him for forgiveness and you’re saved. Develop a relationship with Jesus and brother,
a whole new world opens up.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
God BlessYou! Karl