It won't surprise anyone who knows me that I didn't watch the Super Bowl the other night. My top ten favorite sports are college baseball.
But yesterday I did see a clip of Shannon Sharpe's interview with Ray Lewis during the Super Bowl pre-game show (see the video below). I do watch The Daily Show, which is where I saw the clip.
The Baltimore Ravens' linebacker was involved with the wrong people in a bad situation in 2000, and found himself involved in some way with the murder of two people. He pleased guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against others who were convicted of involvement in the murder. Many people still think he was more involved than he admits, and literally got away with murder. I certainly don't know the truth, and neither do you.
But questions remain, and Shannon Sharpe asked Ray Lewis about those allegations in his his pre-game interview with Lewis on Sunday.
Ray Lewis has since become a Christian and has been involved in many activities expressing his faith. Like happens with a number of celebrity conversions, sometimes it seems like humility is the toughest spiritual battle Ray Lewis faces. I can't come down on him too hard for that, since I have my own spiritual battles to fight.
I reacted with quick anger, however, to one of his statements in the interview.
Part of Lewis' explanation of why we should believe he is innocent of the murders is because God is using him in so many great ways. The quote, and the video:
"If you really knew the way God works, He don't use people who commits anything like that , for His glory. No way. It's the total opposite."
I've been involved in prison ministry for the past 8 years, and I would very much like to introduce Ray Lewis to some of the murderers I've known. I've changed their names.
He should meet Alice, who spent over three decades in prison for the murder of her husband. For much of those 30+ years she quietly set an example of patient faith and endurance, and was responsible for bringing dozens of convicted women to a conviction about their sin and God's grace.
Among the women who followed Alice to God were Beth, another battered wife who killed her husband, and Charlotte, convicted for conspiracy to commit murder. Both of them carried on Alice's ministry of bringing other women to the Lord.
I could introduce Ray Lewis to Martha and Nancy, both in prison for causing the death of their own children. Both arrived in prison totally wrecked, consumed with guilt, and a bit mentally unhinged over their experiences. Both found forgiveness in the arms of the Lord, and both have been used by God in very powerful ways as witnesses to other fallen women of the truth that God will forgive and can work in the life of any one, no matter how heinous their sins.
And Althea, the church lady, the grandmother, the Sunday School teacher, who found herself in a horrible situation and made the wrong choices, resulting in being sent to prison for conspiracy to commit murder. As soon as she landed in the county jail, she began reading her Bible every day, which drew attention from other women there. She would read with them and explain what she was reading, and answer their questions. In the state prison, she opened her Bible again, starting with Day 1, and again drew interest and questions. She spent her time in the prison as a spiritual mother, teaching dozens of younger women about the Bible, answering their questions, counseling them, helping them to get through their shared ordeal with faith and a heart of peace.
In the final 30 days of her sentence, she was moved back to the county jail back home, where she began reading her Bible as always. there was one other young woman in the pod with her, and she asked Althea to read to her. Over the next thirty days, other women came and went, and they all would sit and listen to Althea and pour their hearts out to her and to God.
On the day Althea was finally scheduled to be released to go home, the only woman left was that same young woman that was her first pod-mate a month earlier. She asked Althea, "Who is going to read me the Bible when you're gone?"
Althea closed her bible and handed it to the young woman.
"You keep this," she said. "I can get another one."
The young woman thanked her, but said she wished Althea could stay and read with her.
"No," she answered, "it's time for me to go. I know now why I ended up in prison all these years. It was for you and all the other girls like you. But I've done what He asked me to do, and now it's time for me to go home."
Ray Lewis says he wants his epitaph to say "A man chasing after God's own heart." If he truly is that man, he'll learn that God can indeed use people who commit things like that, for His glory.
And he can use you, too.