July 30th 1980-Everybody Has One

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Everybody has a day, a turning point in their life where after that day nothing is the same. July 30th 1980 was that day for J.R. Richard. Richard was a hard throwing; dominating pitcher for the Houston Astros throughout the 70’s and was having another great year in 1980. As a matter of fact he started in the All Star game that year. But just a few short weeks after the All Star game an event occurred in Richard’s life that changed him forever.

On July 30th 1980 Richard had a serious stroke while practicing on the sidelines at the Astrodome in Houston. He was rushed to the hospital and there the doctors worked on saving his life not his career. He would have another surgery in September of 1980 then would attempt a comeback over the next couple of years but never made it back to the major leagues.

That faithful day in 1980 changed his life in dramatic ways. Over the next several years he would listen to bad financial advice and loose hundreds of thousands of dollars. He would go through a difficult divorce that would cost him 700,000 dollars. He would loose much of his friends, his self esteem, all of his money and everything the world had to offer a world class athlete. His address went from the Houston Astrodome pitching in front of thousands of adoring fans to 59th and Beechnut Street living under a bridge. There he found rock bottom.

This fall did not occur overnight but over a period of time, the great falls normally do. J.R. Richard had little or no control over an event that would lead him to have a stroke but he did have control over the choices he would make in the years to come. Often the turning events in our life are events that we have little if any control over; such as some aspects of our health or the choices that others make that surround us. Actually as I think of how things work out it is not the first event that normally changes our life it is the decisions that we make after that event that decide in what direction our life will turn.

It is all about choices. Charles Swindoll has made the statement that life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent in how you handle it.

The reason I chose to write about J R Richard is not so you could see the story of a man who at one time had wealth but ended up living under a bridge but I wanted you to hear the rest of the story.

Richard lived under the bridge for three months before some friends rescued him from that plight. So now where do we find him? We find him as associate pastor of Mt Pleasant Church in Houston. Let’s listen to some quotes from Associate Pastor J.R. Richard during an interview on the 700 Club that I think are much more valuable than any fastball he ever threw.

Are you feeling lonely, hopeless or abandoned? Have you taken a fall from the top of life and found your friends really were not friends at all. Listen to what Richard has to say, “You’ve got to look at the goodness. It made me look more deeply at myself, to realize it isn’t about your friends; it isn’t about materialistic things in life. It isn’t about the car, the nice house or whatever. It’s about God and God alone!”

Are you tired of your prayers not being answered and feeling discouraged? Richard has these thoughts that he shares with his congregation. He urges them to be faithful to God and not to blame Him for struggles they face. He says, “You may give Him a week, and when things don’t work out, you say Ah forget about this God stuff. But you’ve got to give Him your life.”

Do you feel as though you have fallen too far to be recovered? You have gone from riches to rags spiritually because of a wrong choice or great sin in your life? Richard’s Pastor Shanks has this to say, “What you’re seeing now is J.R. in a different season. What we saw after his tragic end in baseball was one season in his life. God has brought him into a new season. When God can restore dignity and self-respect, this is priceless!” Indeed it is.

Everyone has a July 30th, 1980, a turning point in their life. When it happens take a queue from someone who spent a season of life spiraling downward only to be recovered. It is great to know a God that restores, that gives second chances, that knows our greatest hurts and most pressing needs. It is great to know a God that loves us so much.

Let’s close with one last quote from the 700 Club interview. The question is asked what is priceless to J. R. and his response is the faithfulness and love of God, “If man would quit looking at himself and start looking to God, he’d become a lot better off. If you want to talk about love, God gave His only begotten Son. John 3:16 said that. Now you can’t love anybody more than that.

No matter what season of life you are in know this, God loves you and sent His son to die for you. Give him your life.

Scripture: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank you so much for laying claim on our life, for knowing all the seasons of our life and for loving us in spite of our wrong choices. We are thankful that you know where we are at all times and for sending your Son to die for us and we ask all these things in His precious name, the name above all names, Jesus Christ. Amen.

all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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