Anyone who followed West Ham United in the late 1990s will remember one particular player who was much loved for his fearsome tackling and combative nature.
I’m talking, of course, about John Moncur, who was the sort of player that every manager would want in their squad. Fiercely committed, he would keep fighting for a result when others were flagging. But he also had a bit of a temper, which got him into trouble from time to time.
In an interview with a football magazine (Four Four Two) this month, John was described as having become a Christian to help deal with his “terrible temper”, which he did not deny.
What interested me was that he quoted the example of King David, whose life story appears in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic scriptures alike. Because, apart from being a shepherd and a king and killing Goliath, David was a sinner. He had sex with another man’s wife and arranged for her husband to die, so he was really a murderer. And yet, when he later admitted what he’d done, humbled himself and sought God’s forgiveness, he was given a second chance to live the life that God had called him to.
Some of the best passages in the Bible are about the “Amazing Grace” of God in forgiving us when we have gone wrong. No wonder John Moncur said in his interview: “It inspires me and gives me hope”.
Lent – the time of year between Ash Wednesday and the days before Easter – is a time for reflection, for humbling ourselves, seeking forgiveness for those things that have hurt others, and for seeing more clearly what are the things that really matter, that should be the guiding lights of our lives.
Jimmy Carter, perhaps the greatest of former presidents of the United States as well as a humble Christian man, wrote these words recently: “What are the things that you can’t see that are important? I would say justice, truth, humility, service, compassion, love. You can’t see any of those, but they’re the guiding lights of a life.” Amen to that, President.