Hey guys, friendly old everyday Jaq here, just asking some more questions to get you through the sporting day.
This month’s questions are a little more somber than most, but there are times when even the fun, excitement, and thrill of sports steps aside momentarily to consider the deeper human experience that makes its way into the sports world.
What would you do if you knew when your last day on earth was? If you knew the hour of your death? Would you spend your time remaining with family or with stuff? Would you hit every sporting event you could or spend every moment in a church? Would you hoard your moment or blow everything out? What would you do?
Now ask that question in reverse (or sideways, however the geometry of questions goes). What would you do since you “do not know the date or the hour”? Just as we do not know when the LORD will return (Matthew 24:36-44, all references will be to the NIV), we do not know when our “date” or “hour” is.
So what are we to do, and for that matter (as I am sure the hordes of readers are asking themselves at this moment) what does that have to do with sports?
Enough questions. Time for answers.
He was born June 16, 1959 as James Brian Hellwig, and made his professional sports debut in November of 1985. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the only person to date (known to me anyway) to hold both the World Championship and Intercontinental Championship titles in what would eventually become the premiere sports league of his chosen profession (as if by now you can’t tell what profession that is).
He would leave that league and come back later, eventually to retire in 1998.
Many of you probably knew of James Hellwig by the name he bore at the height of his professional career. You knew him as The Ultimate Warrior.
Go and check out his Wikipedia page, and you can get a sense of the mercurial (sort of in and out) nature of his career in professional wrestling. The Ultimate Warrior was indeed a different kettle of fish (editor—does anyone actually say that anymore?)(Editor answer: Yes… you just did!), which was evinced, by other things, by the Hellwig legally changing his name in 1993 to one word: “Warrior.”
But even as much of a character as The Ultimate Warrior was (the face paint and ring rope shaking among them), there was a human story of Warrior’s conflict with the WWE (then WWF, until the World Wildlife Federation got wind of them) that made his story in professional wrestling one more of tragedy than comedy.
In 1991, so the story goes, The Ultimate Warrior made demands on the WWF making certain demands for a new contract that the WWF appeared to accept, only to suspend him after Summer Slam for the manner and threat to not perform made in the demand. The Ultimate Warrior then left the WWF instead of accepting the suspension.
He later briefly returned in 1992 to be released again during the government’s anti-steroid push, the public reasoning for his release differing as to who was doing the telling (see the Wikipedia entry for some details).
He would return again in 1996 and be released (for the last time from WWF), and again there was disagreement and controversy over the reasoning.
The relationship between WWE and The Ultimate Warrior remained strained for quite some time. In 2005, WWE released the DVD The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, a documentary that Warrior declined involvement in. His depiction in the documentary led to Warrior’s filing a lawsuit in Arizona in 2006, which was dismissed in 2009.
One would not have been surprised had the story ended there, for isn’t this the way of life’s feuds for us humans? We are offended, we offend, and we grow apart and build walls. Our feelings of hurt and “righteous” anger cause lasting separation and hard feelings. As long as they stay up, as long as the defenses stay up, as long as revenging the hurt “stays up,” we remain apart.
The story does not end here for Warrior and the WWE.
Over time, some fences got mended.
On April 5, 2014, Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame with his wife and two daughters (whose last name is Warrior) present to witness the crowning moment of his reconciliation with the WWE.
On April 6, 2014, Warrior appeared at Wrestlemania XXX.
On April 7, 2014, Warrior appeared in the ring for a “promo” (that is, a wrestler’s monologue) on Raw, where he delivered the following speech (quoted from Wikipedia, itself quoting from a Christopher Hooton The Independent article of April 9, 2014):
“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. I am Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of The Ultimate Warrior will run forever!.
On April 8, 2014, the next day, while walking alongside his wife outside a hotel in Arizona, at 5:50 p.m., Warrior fell to the ground. Taken to a hospital, Warrior, the former James Brian Hellwig, was pronounced dead at the age of 54.
You do not know the date or the hour.
Two of the wrestlers with which Warrior apparently had “heat” over the years on a personal basis, Hulk Hogan and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, were able to reconcile with Warrior before the last. Hulk Hogan tweeted (in two twitter entries): “RIP WARRIOR. only love. . .We talked, both forgave each other, we hugged, we shook hands as we told each other I love you, I am so sad, God bless his beautiful family”. Jake Roberts tweeted “Deeply saddened. We just had a great talk & buried a senseless hatchet. Talked working together. RIP Warrior. Taking solace we made peace.”
Because you do not know the date or the hour.
The Scripture speaks much about being ready. Matthew 24:45-47 speaks of the faithful and wise servant ready for his master’s return and the reward he gets for the same (and verses 48-51 speaks of the peril and anguish awaiting the servant not ready for, and sadly surprised by, his master’s return).
The Scripture speaks much about forgiveness and reconciliation. Matthew 6:12, a part of the teaching by Jesus as to how we should pray, says “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . .” Verse 14: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
And, the book of Hebrews speaks of a day called “today.” Hebrews 3:7-8: So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion. . .” And verse 13: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Because you do not know the date or the hour.
Three days before he died, Warrior and the WWE publicly reconciled. Just prior to that, Hulk Hogan and Jake Roberts (and, no doubt, others) reconciled. And Warrior had one last chance to say “thank you to his fans,” opportunities he did not pass up.
All of which was good, because you do not know the date or the hour.
We all know there is something we need to do. Forgive and be forgiven, reconcile, make peace. Even to finally say “yes” to God and receive the forgiveness borne by the sacrifice of the Son.
And it is today that it needs doing. Not tomorrow, next week, or next month, or someday. Today, while it is still today. For you do not know the date or the hour.
Personal aside: This article was written after the passing of my wife’s mother, who died at the age of 93. The family has well taken care of her for years as she has aged, and is, in my view, a testament to what I have talked of above. The family did have some warning, as she had a stroke one week before passing. Family members from all over had a chance to say last words to her, including Jaq here. We got to tell her, one last time, that we loved her, and we thanked her for being so good to us and for us. The family has grown stronger and more together as they took seriously the task of caring for my mother-in-law. I commend their example to you.
And, with that, this is Jaq, signing off until next time (in keeping with the theme of this article, if the LORD wills).