Shortly after entering a guilty plea on Monday to a federal dogfighting charge, Michael Vick made a wide-ranging statement in which he apologized to everybody who has been affected by his actions. He also took responsibility for his crimes and acknowledged that it is time for him to grow up.
However, seemingly lost in his apology, there was one simple statement that was the most important comment he made. The statement was both simple and profound, and it will have the most lasting impact on his life if he really meant it.
He said: "Through this situation I've found Jesus."
For his sake, I hope this is true. Many times, people find the Lord after their lives have collapsed and are surrounded by the rubble of what once was. This is especially true of famous and wealthy people like Vick. Materialism seduces us into believing in our own greatness and that we do not need anybody else. I'm not saying that happened to Vick, but history is littered with people that it did happen to.
Of course, many will say that this is just a ploy to shape public opinion more favorably toward him. It is a valid point, and he would not be the first person to exploit Jesus for personal gain. However, because I cannot see into his heart, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this.
After all that has happened, his simple statement is the defining moment of his life. It doesn't matter how many touchdowns he has scored, how much money he has made or how many women he has slept with. Those are the types of things that impress mankind but are small potatoes within an eternal picture.
My prayer for him is that he will surround himself with Godly people who can help him develop his spiritual walk. His life in prison will certainly provide plenty of time for study, and let us hope he spends time in the Word. There is no substitute for that.
Much of the debate surrounding Vick's life is whether or not he will ever get to play football again. However, the most important issue is the condition of Vick as a man. The football issue will work itself out over time.
Based on what he said Monday, this whole sordid event will likely produce a much better man. It will be very difficult on him in the short term. But by staying close to God, it will all be more bearable.
Remember, punishment is the most important reason for having prisons, but rehabilitation is crucial, too.
Let's hope Vick backs up his statements.