Community Post: The High Calling of Sports JournalismBlog / Produced by The High Calling
As we waited for the lights to dim for a showing of the latest Warren Miller ski film a couple sat down in front of me and my daughter. We started talking and before long Rick and Traci Reuter were sharing a beautiful story.
Almost immediately, I sensed this was another blessing in my job as a fulltime sports writer. This was another God-given opportunity to write a story I believe he wanted me to write.
Rick, we learned that night, has Parkinson’s disease. Two years ago he couldn’t dress himself or roll over in bed without Traci’s help, but then the surgical implantation of electrodes in his brain made it possible for him to become active again.
Rick and Traci are strong Christ followers. Traci had been praying for someone to appear in their lives who could write Rick’s inspirational story and share it with the world. Meeting them was an answer to prayer for me as well. I pray for God to use me—to give me stories he wants me to write and speak through my writing. All four of us that night felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. We knew it was not a random occurrence when Rick and Traci sat down in front of us.
I wish I could say all of my stories were inspirational and Spirit-driven. Sometimes I just write about ski races or soccer games. But I do pray for “God stories,” and it seems like he gives me a lot of them. That’s what I believe, anyway.
Like the story about Mike Shea, an amputee and recovering alcoholic who competed and medaled in snowboarding at the Sochi Paralympics. Last year I watched him give a snowboarding lesson to Bruce Daugherty, another amputee who had battled severe depression and suicidal thoughts. How God brought them together was mind-blowing. How God brought me in to do the story was pretty amazing, too.
I believe God is the reason I got to write about Phoenix Multisport, a Denver program which uses sports to help alcoholics and drug addicts find positive activities to aid in their recovery. One of the men in that story described an experience when he was high on a rock wall in Moab on a group outing and suddenly was overcome by emotion. Initially he thought he was having a panic attack, but then realized what he was feeling was love – his love for fellow Phoenix members, and their love for him.
How could that not be a God story?
I used to take a lot of pride in finding and writing what reporters call “great stories.” Now I realize my great stories come from God, and I give him the glory. The more I do that, the more great stories I seem to get. I was deeply moved once by the testimony of a woman at my church who said her daily prayer is, “Use me to show your love to the world.” Her prayer became my prayer.
On the desk where I do most of my writing I have a picture I took of Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman, a role model for the way he uses the blessings of his musical talent for God. On that picture I put Colossians 3:23-24. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters … It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Now an Olympic medalist wants me to co-author a book about her faith journey. I believe it would shock people to know this former athlete is a faithful Christ-follower, and because of that her story would be a powerful message.
I have had countless blessings in a career that has taken me to 11 Olympic Games and 15 foreign countries, including the adventure of a lifetime on Mount Everest in 1985. But now, after 38 years of doing this, I find the greatest blessings come when I sense that God is using me.
John Meyer has been a Denver sports writer since 1983; first with the Rocky Mountain News and most recently with the Denver Post. He was recently honored by International Ski Federation for career contributions to the sport. His story on a 9-year-old girl training for World Dwarf Games was honored as the best sports story in 2013 by Colorado Associated Press editors. He has covered 100 World Cup events and 11 Olympics.
Sports for the Glory of God
If God has created humanity with bodies that are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” we need to develop a Christian way of living that incorporates play and recreation, leisure and competition, sports and athletics. Faith in the Creator and Redeemer should lead us to identify the way sports and athletics are meant to be, discern when something is wrong with sports in our broken and sinful culture, and imagine ways to be instruments of redemption in this sphere. In this series, "Sports for the Glory of God," we engage with stories of people who are working through these issues on a daily basis.