Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Bart Starr"

(I think I've shared this story with you before.
If so, thanks for allowing me to share it again.)

When I was growing up, I loved professional football, I loved the Green Bay Packers, and I loved Bart Starr (as an adult, I've lost interest in everything but Mr. Starr, whom I still greatly admire as a person far more than I did as a football player. I must say, however, that with the Packers playing in the Super Bowl tomorrow, well...).
Mr. Starr is legendary here in his home state of Alabama. Certainly his on the field exploits in a football-crazy state are part of the reason for his notoriety. Even more, however, he is known for the life he has lived and the things he has done as the expression of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I recall hearing the story told by a gentleman whose car broke down on the highway. Many drivers passed by without a thought of stopping to help. Finally, a car pulled over to the side of the road behind the stalled vehicle. The driver of car who got out and offered help was Bart Starr. Again, this is one of many stories told by Alabamians about a man honored as the 1960s Player of the Decade in the NFL. Far more, Mr. Starr has been a man who quietly honors his Lord with a life of self sacrificial devotion to God and people.
I have a personal Bart Starr story. A few years ago our family stopped at a fruit stand in central Alabama as we returned home from vacation. The stand was known for its peach ice cream, and we went in to enjoy a treat. As I stood in line, a man passed by, leaving the store. I only glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, but later, through the plate glass windows of the building, I realized that it was Bart Starr whose path had crossed with mine. I could see him getting into his car where his wife waited, and rather than leave, they sat there enjoying the same peach ice cream we had stopped to buy.
I was faced with a dilemma. A strong inclination gripped me to go out to the car and tell Mr. Starr what a blessing he had been to me, both as a football player and as a Christian gentleman. For nearly a half century, he had held such a special place in my heart, and now I finally had an opportunity to tell him so. However, another thought came to mind, which eventually guided my actions. People of prominence such as Bart Starr are constantly barraged with admirers, and anything I could say to him, he's doubtless heard a thousand times. More importantly, he was sharing a moment with his wife that I did not want to interrupt. So I decided to thank the Lord for a nice blessing, and allow Mr. and Mrs. Starr their privacy.
I've always been glad I did that. It would have been nice to actually meet Bart Starr. It was far nicer, however, to exercise the same respect that I think he would have shown, given the same situation. In fact, I think my actions in that moment were guided to some degree by the things I knew to be true of Mr. Starr. He is and has long been a Christian gentleman. I want to be the same. It says much about Bart Starr that he could inspire such a determination, and it says even more about the Lord Jesus who so lives in God's trusting children that they can have such profound influence on each other. Indeed, I am sure that Mr. Starr would give all glory to His Savior for the life he has lived. And wonderfully, those who of us who have been blessed by Bart Starr are also inspired to give glory to the Savior for the life he has lived...
"As it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(I Corinthians 1:31)

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