It was one of those Monday mornings when you are out and about. So was Big Ben. The American football quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers was riding his 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa in downtown Pittsburgh.
Ben Roethlisberger, 6’5”, 241lbs is a sports celebrity. He became the youngest quarterback in American football history to lead a team to Superbowl victory in just his 2nd year in the league. In 2004 he signed a 6 year contract for $22.26 million in salaries and bonuses along with an additional $17.73 million available to him via incentives.
On Monday, June 12, 2006 Big Ben’s Suzuki collided with a Chrysler New Yorker in downtown Pittsburg. That was 11:10am. Roethlisberger left his bike by flying over the handlebars and his helmetless head shattered the windshield of the car.
As bystanders and the injured quarterback awaited the arrival of the paramedics, blood was gushing from an internal vein or artery in his mouth and throat. He was seconds away from death but fortunately a paramedic arrived in the nick of time and spared his life. In the ambulance he asked the paramedic if “this was really happening or was it a bad dream.” After 7 hours of surgery for multiple face fractures, broken jaws and a nose, he was taken off the critical list.
In an interview from Los Angeles one month later with 2” titanium plates with screws holding his face together, Roethlisberger talked about his experience.
“They told me that I was literally seconds, maybe a minute away from dying because I slit a vein or artery in my mouth or my throat and it was draining blood right into my stomach and luckily the paramedic noticed it and stopped it or else I would have had too much blood in my stomach,” he said in Los Angeles where he was for the taping of the ESPY Awards. (1)
60 seconds from death is closer than a person ever wants to be. It’s awfully close to the end. Many cruise through life thinking about everything else but God and eternity until they have a big wake up call….like a few inches or a few seconds from death. Then their perspective changes. Things that once seemed so important fade and the deeper issues of life become the priority.
One month after the close call, what did Ben say was on his mind as he spoke with the media in Los Angeles?
After saying he was literally seconds, maybe a minute away from death, he then went on to say: “Now that I am doing better and I feel good, now all I am thinking about is football and that is what is on my mind right now. I am getting healthy and I am getting better every day so all I am thinking about is football. I am not thinking about anything else.” (1)
Have you had a close brush with death? How did you handle it afterwards? Ben is back to thinking only about football. What about you? When you had your close-call, did you do any thinking about where you would have been five minutes after you died? If something unexpected happened to you later today or tomorrow, where would you be in eternity?
By the way, I searched in vain for a story of Ben trusting Christ as his Saviour at some point earlier in his life but I was unable to find such a story. Since High School he has displayed the acronym PFJ (Play for Jesus) on his shoes but the NFL ordered him to discontinue wearing personal messages on his clothes. It is important to understand that talking about Jesus and praying to God for safety does not mean one is a Christian. If you have read a Personal testimony of Ben’s faith in Christ, please let me know. He does not have such a statement on his own website.
I know that football is important to Ben but long after he plays his last game, he will be somewhere in God’s eternity – forever. If he has not already experienced God’s salvation, the priority for him whether he knows it or not is the salvation of his soul – not football.
Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ personally as your Saviour? Is your soul saved? Do you enjoy the peace of sins forgiven and the assurance of an eternal home in Heaven? If you had to die today, are you comfortable going out to meet God in your present condition? Or would you need some time to get ready?
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Prepare to meet your God.
Amos 4:12The wages of sin is death
but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.