The following is an excerpt from my book, How Do You Know He’s Real: God Unplugged. NFL quarterback David Carr (now with the Carolina Panthers) shares an amazing story. In the books, famous recording artists, actors and athletes share personal stories of faith. If you know someone who questions the existence of God, or who needs a spiritual boost, you should check it out. You can find more information about the book series and see a list of featured celebrities on my website, www.hesreal.com.
I was raised in the church my entire life. I first received Christ at Wagon Train Camp when I was in fourth grade. My cousin and I both dedicated our lives to Him the same day, and we’ve been best friends ever since. As I grew older, I was very involved with my youth group. The friends I made in that group are still my friends today – even more so than the friends I made in high school and college.
Going away to college was hard a first, mostly because I had to leave my family. Anytime you go out on your own, it’s human nature to explore everything. A lot of my friends chose to get mixed up in bad crowds but I never fell into that. The thing that always brought me back into focus was my family. I had such a good support system around me that I was never able – as much as I tried – to veer off track. My family always slapped me back in line. It was nice to have them around.
High school and college were a time of intense peer pressure. Being involved in sports, especially football, helped me stay focused on God. It’s amazing how many football players find a way to believe in God or at least believe there’s someone out there helping them. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the game – I’ve seen some very serious injuries. And I’ve seen some guys who are just as talented as I am that just didn’t happen to make it because of some freak accident.
Football is a serious contact sport as everyone knows, and there’s a lot of violent action that goes on. That’s especially true when you’re the quarterback – when you drop back in the pocket, you’ve got five guys fighting for you and five guys coming to get you. You’re at the mercy of whatever they do. But you really can’t worry about it because you have a job to do – you need to throw the ball out on the field and complete passes. It involves a lot of faith. I’ve been playing football since I was in 5th grade, and to think that I’ve gotten this far without any serious injuries is really remarkable. To think I’ve done that all on my own would be foolish.
There’s no doubt I’ve been blessed. Every day I count my blessings and realize that I’m not here just by accident. It’s tempting for professional athletes to take credit for their own accomplishments and let their celebrity impact their egos. My grandparents always used to tell me that I was never going to get too big for anything I did in life. They told me that God had a reason for putting me in these prominent positions … never forget it.
I’ve tried very hard not to take advantage of my success. I’ve played ball with so many friends who have fallen fast – at any time this can all be taken away. In just one play an entire career can be over. So you can go out there and get a big head and think it’s all because of you, but to me, that just doesn’t make sense. I don’t have to try very hard to believe that God’s protecting me and He’s got His hand on my life.
I remember one time in particular when I knew Christ was real. We played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the last pre-season game before my official NFL debut in 2002. I was only scheduled for five plays in that game – after that they were going to take the starters out and rest them for the season opener the following week. We were basically going to go in, get a couple of snaps and get back out.
It just so happened we got a couple of first downs and they decided to leave us in and keep the drive going. On a pass rush, a guy came around and came free, and as I threw the ball I got hit hard in my left leg. My cleat stuck in the turf and my knee hit the ground before the rest of my body. I heard it “pop” and thought to myself, “This is not good.”
As I lay on the ground waiting for the trainers to check me out, so many things went through my mind. I refused to believe that I’d gone through all those years of training to have my career end before my very first game. Right at that second, in a very quiet voice inside my heart, I heard, “Get up, you’re not done yet.”
To the surprise of the coaches, I stood up, tested out my leg, and walked off the field under my own power. The doctors did x-rays but found there was nothing at all wrong with my knee. It was obviously a miracle, because I’ve seen it on film – your knee is not supposed to bend that way. I knew that I’d been protected. At that moment, I just knew that God had brought me there for a bigger purpose – it was about more than just a football game. That sort of divine intervention has happened many times over the course of my football career.
About six months ago, my five year old son, Austin, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. My wife, Melody, and I were shocked when we heard the diagnosis. We kept asking, “Why did this happen to him? Why do we have to go through this right now?” But at the same time, I knew God gave me peace me in the midst of this struggle. I knew that the peace I felt only could have come from God alone, because my normal fatherly instinct would have caused me to respond very differently. I would have been a mess knowing that my firstborn son had a disease that would affect him for the rest of his life. But God helped me realize we could turn this into something good – it wasn’t just all about me.
I knew everything was going to be okay and it was happening for a good reason. Since then, we’ve been able to help so many other kids who have diabetes. When we first found out about Austin, we went to a class to learn how to give insulin shots and check his blood sugar. Many of the parents of stricken children, even kids as young as 6 or 7 months, weren’t able to be there because they had to work. I knew right there that we had to do something. We had to go out and try to raise awareness, and raise money – do something to cure this disease. And because of my platform we’re able to raise so much more money to help out these kids.
Football has always been just a game for me. It just so happens that I get paid way too much money to play it. And I’m thankful every day for the opportunities I have been given. I’m doing something I love, and more importantly, I believe God has called me to do it. Being in the NFL, especially being a quarterback, can bring with it a lot of pressure. But I know that God wouldn’t have me here in this position if it wasn’t for a purpose. Even if bad things happen and we lose a couple of games, it’s all part of God’s plan. If I didn’t believe that, I’d just as soon be a normal, everyday person who doesn’t believe in God at all. Because without faith, I wouldn’t have anything.
I think Mr Carr is sincere. But with all due respect, his story is not a compelling example for the existence of God. In the case of his leg injury, there have simply been too many times where people experience what they THINK will be a horribly damaging injury, only to find out later they were lucky and it just wasn’t that bad.
Here’s an example:
All four fingers of my left hand (not the thumb) were caught hard in a car door when I was 18, and it was an old-style car from 70s where the door was heavy and RIGID. The door closed ENTIRELY (latched completely shut) with my fingers IN the tiny 1/8″ gap between the front and rear doors. You would think it physically impossible for fingers that are 1/2″ across, and bones that are certainly much larger than 1/8″, to be crushed into that gap, and somehow not be injured. When we got the door open, I put my hand in cold water and ice. Not one bone was broken, and I didn’t even have a cut on my hand.
I have played piano all my life (since I was 5) and played guitar since I was 16. I had a gig to play 4 days after that hand got crushed in the door! My hand was perfectly fine by that day.
To this day (I am now 46), playing piano and guitar, both for myself and performing in live bands, has been probably my greatest joy and comfort. I often think that my left hand could have been destroyed in that accident and left me unable to play.
My point is, that for ME, I now look back on that day and think that God saved my hand that day because music was so important not only to me, but to all the friends I have played with and played for. It has brought me and many other people joy and companionship for these past 30-odd years. But someone else could easily look at this and say it was just a freak accident and I got lucky, so it doesn’t do much to convince anyone else of th existence of God.
The case of his child’s diabetes is even less convincing. Thousands and thousands of people develop diabetes as children. Many of them speak to others about their experience and help them cope with the disease. This doesn’t mean God gave his child diabetes so he could help others, and it doesn’t mean God spoke to him so he could turn his adversity into something good. All it means is he and his family are determined people who pick themselves up and soldier on when bad things happen to them.
I believe God gives him the strength and confidence to handle these difficult things as they come his way. But that is more an issue of him (and myself) having faith that God does that. The problem with this is that personal heartfelt faith cannot be used as a convincing argument to anyone ELSE that God exists. To someone who is searching, wondering, looking for concrete examples from peoples’ lives that God does indeed exist, you need more definite provable examples, not just testimonials of someone’s inner faith. The latter serves to reenforce the faith of people who already believe there is a God, but it will not help to convince anyone else.
i was on a motercycle i was 27 no crash helmet coming to this bend suddenly avoice spoke it told me i was going to crash but dont be afraid heed my words and you will not die but injured it was a bad acident but i felt no pain a passing drver took me to the hospital i had injuries to my head and face the doctors kept asking me if i was in pain i replied no and i wont have any they they were amazed the surgen kept checking on me on the third day he came to my bedside asked if he coud ask about the acciden i started telling him but he said he wanted to know about the other thing that happened i was amazed how did he know but told him he looked at me and said i thought so
God bless. It is good that you have posts like this, I do believe in God very much. It gives me great peace that I read stories of people that are so successful in life, and believing in God. Just some people that I thought you should know that believe in God: Eli manning, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers. Tom brady has been a life long catholic, peyton and eli both are into God, elis name is from the Holy Bible, Elisha. Oprah believes in God, many of the rap stars always thank God for saving there lives, ie 50 cent, slim shady, lil wayne, 2pac, etc, etc, etc. God bless you for your great job!!!!!!
Just an addition, can you please email me the names of the other people that wrote about how God changed there lives, I would love to know about them, please email me, my email is attached, as you can see thanks Mrs. Hammond.
nice article !