In honor of the Falcons’ Super Bowl appearance this weekend, I’m going to talk about my favorite Falcon of all time. He was a great player for sure – a two time Pro Bowler and a member of the Falcons Ring of Honor. But more importantly, he was on fire for God.
Long before Matt Ryan, there was Steve Bartkowski. He took the NFL by storm, even earning the Rookie of the Year honor. He led the Falcons to some great seasons, even a playoff appearance or two. But after a couple of years, things stalled out. He was struggling, both on the field and in his personal life. Things got so bad the Falcons benched him.
June Jones, his backup quarterback, could have relished in the occasion. Instead he allowed God to use it as a teaching moment in Bartkowski’s life. After the second game of the season, June Jones pulled Steve aside.
“Bart, I am going to quarterback the team until you give your life to God.”
Jones didn’t know it, but not long before that conversation, Steve had prayed at his locker and committed his life to the Lord. God used that season of trials and difficulties to show Steve that he didn’t need to rely on his own human striving to get where he wanted in his life. He needed to surrender and trust God with everything. In that moment of surrender, Steve’s life was literally intercepted by Christ.
God used Steve in a big way after he surrendered his life to God. A powerful revival swept through the Falcons team during that time that spilled over into the Atlanta community. Steve coauthored a book with Dan DeHaan appropriately called “Intercepted by Christ”. Beyond a story of Steve’s life, it was a powerful call to Christian discipleship. Steve and other Falcons players spoke at Bible studies and events around the city, and it rippled into a mighty move of God. It is not a stretch to say that the effects of this move are still felt in Atlanta today.
Every day, we are faced with a choice. We can live for ourselves, or we can surrender everything to God. I pray that you choose the second route. It’s not always easy, but it’s always the best.
Are you living a life of surrender to God? Or are you relying on human striving? Let your life be intercepted by Christ – it’s the greatest adventure you’ll ever be a part of!
Note: If you’ve never read Dan DeHaan’s books, I highly recommend them. Intercepted by Christ is filled with practical tips for Christian discipleship, and The God You Can Know is just dripping with God’s loving character. Either would be an inspiring read.