by Nicholas James
On a warm spring morning, last wednesday, before a packed conference room in Baton Rouge, Dave Dravecky gave a uplifting speech called “Overcoming“.
Dave talked about his battle with cancer and his efforts to overcome and persevere from this dreadful illness. A disease that cost him his major league pitching career and his right arm.
He has recently completed a new book, “The Worth of a Man” by Dave Dravecky with C.W. Neal. In it Dave says:
“Guys, each of us is on a journey, an uncertain journey called life. God never said it was going to be easy, but it can surely be worthwhile. God will walk this journeyy with us. Wherever our road leads us, he will go with us and will be there at the end of the road, waiting for us with open arms and with love in his eyes.
That’s what the worth of a man is all about. That’s where true love comes from. And to know God’s infinite love is to know the full worth of man.”
Daves other literary accomplishments are: “Do Not Lose Heart” with Jan Dravecky and Steve Halliday; Dave Dravecky (Today’s Heroes) with Tim Stafford; “Glimpses of Heaven” with Jan Dravecky and Amanda Sorenson; and “Stand By Me” with Jan Dravecky and Amanda Sorenson.
Dave was the keynote speaker for the 47th annual Louisiana Governor’s Prayer breakfast.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting aired the event. You can watch a replay of the Louisiana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast at LPB here: VIDEO LINK
The color guard ceremony for the prayer breakfast was performed by the LSU Pershing rifles.
Mr. Stephen Wallace, 2011 Prayer Breakfast Committee, gave the opening remarks
“The Purpose of our breakfast is to pray, for our Governor and our elected officials at the beginning of the legislative session. We do this every year, and it is our privilege and honor to do that. Our theme this year is “Overcoming” and that is something we believe our state has experienced and knows a lot about. And the good news my friends I want to share with you is that we can all overcome, today, through the power of God through his son Jesus Christ .” (03:47)
The Honored guests seated at the head table were:
- The Reverend Robert Muench, Bishop
- Representative Regina Ashford Barrow, Louisiana House of Representatives District 29
- Bobby Welch, Headmaster at The Dunham School
- Senator Sharon Weston Broome, Louisiana Senate President Pro Tempore and Louisiana Senator for District 15
- Dave Dravecky, Speaker – Former major league pitcher and author.
- Honorable Dale M. Erdey – Louisiana Senator District 13
- Rev. Ray E. Wallace, Retired Southern Baptist Minister
- Jane Smith, Louisiana House of Representatives District 8
- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
The three premier sponsors for the prayer breakfast were:
Mr. Bobby Welch, 2011 Prayer Breakfast Committee.
“Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “everybody can be great because anybody can serve”… he goes on, and I quote, “you don’t have to have a college degree to serve; You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve; You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics and physics to serve; You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.“”
Senator Sharon Weston Broome led the opening prayer followed by another prayer from Rev. Ray E. Wallace.
The guest Musician for the event was Ben Utecht. Mr. Utecht has just recently switched careers from professional football to music. He played with the Indianapolis Colts who won Super Bowl XLI. He is now touring the country singing popular Gospel music.
Rep Jane Smith read Psalm 67 1-7.
1God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.
2That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
3Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
4O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.
5Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
6Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.
7God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
Rep Regina A. Barrow read a passage from Romans 8: 37-39
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Introduction of keynote speaker Dave Dravecky was done by Mr. Stephen Wallace.
“… As you will hear from his story, his story is one of hope, one of courage, one of perseverance in the midst of very dark and overwhelming uncertainty. In 1988, Dave was at the top of his game, as an All-Star pitcher, he was playing the game of his childhood dreams. In his 5-1 opening day win over the Dodgers was overshadowed that fall by the discovery of cancer in his arm that led to the removal of 1/2 of his deltoid muscle in his pitching arm. But for baseball players world-wide, he etched his name in history on the day of August 10th 1989 when defying all odds after battling cancer in his pitching arm Dave came back again to pitch in the major leagues… He became an inspiration to people that day….
Unfortunately, his comeback was short-lived. For five days later in Montreal, Dave threw the pitch that was heard around the world. His arm literally broke and split in two. And eventually his arm, along with his shoulder blade and left side of his collarbone had to be amputated for fear that the cancer would spread and actually take his life.
He had to leave his dream of playing professional baseball. But little did he know that that dream would be used by God in a mighty way as a platform for him to share with others about how to overcome the devastation of cancer and more importantly how to overcome in his life.
He later wrote a book with his wife Jan, that’s called “When you can’t come back“. And in the book they describe the loss of his arm, but the silver lining that they found in discovering true value, true worth, and true identity can be found.
And so he has written several books about his Journey. He and his wife have formed a foundation in Colorado called Endurance where they help others through the battle of cancer and those that need help….“
Dave then gives an uplifting talk about his life journey and his battle with overcoming cancer. Some highlights from his speech:
“God does not favor winners or losers, he favors the heart”
“God doesn’t just exist on the mountain tops, as a matter of fact, he is more real in the valley.”
The first question he was asked the next day after his injury is: “So where is your God now? …. He hasn’t gone anywhere, he is right here in my heart, and he is going to give me the strength to deal with this.”
“If my card (tears card) now looks like this, does Dave Dravecky still have worth? And I went all the way back to 1981 in Amarillo Texas, to realize, ladies and gentlemen, to realize that I have worth beyond my comprehension. And it has nothing to do with what I do, and everything to do with who I am”
“God intervenes with this son, every day of my life, so that I can experience his amazing grace. And that is exactly what he can do for you.”
Governor Bobby Jindal then gives the following closing remarks.
I just want to share three quick thoughts
One, what a privilege it was to hear Dave this morning …. and instead he has taken that difficult journey and turned it into a positive faith experience. Now he travels across the country inspiring and toughing the hearts of thousands of people who otherwise might not get to hear the Gospel and the good news if he did not have the courage and the faith to turn his suffering into something positive…
There are two things he said that really struck me.
The first is what he said about what gives us value. It is so easy to think that what gives us value is our titles…. what truly gives us value is that we were created in his image, that he died and rose for us…
The second thing he shared with us was in keeping an eternal perspective. So often in life we fall in this trap where we value things that really are just temporary. If we really believed what the bible teaches us, if we really believed what we hear in church, we would not waste so much of our lives on things that really don’t matter from an eternal perspective…. From an eternal perspective, there is no special section in heaven for millionaires, for baseball players, for football players, for governors, for celebrities. I was sharing that with a friend of mine, he said, what makes you think that Governor’s from Louisiana get to go to heaven. I said, that’s why we believe in a forgiving God.
The second thought I wanted to share with you. I want to speak the the parents for a moment…(Go watch the video for a long, funny, story about the Governor’s children) So I recommend you pray with your kids every night, I would recommend that you read them (your kids) the bible every night, I would just be careful where you leave off.
I am going to close with a final an third point. Today, this mornings theme is overcoming. We have heard a remarkable, inspiring real life story of how one man has struggled with issues of health, issues of faith, issues of a professional crisis, and because of what Jesus has done for him and done for each one of us, he has been able now to have an even better life than he could have dreamed possible for himself. We as a state can also learn from this example, we have now been, you think about the last five and a half years, been through four major hurricanes, Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike, We have been through a major oil spill. We as a country are going through the worst recession since the great depression. If there was ever a State that could apply these lessons of overcoming, certainly it is the state of Louisiana. Yet we have faith and confidence, that with God, and with the strongest most resilient, most generous people you will meet anywhere in the world, that we will do better than just persevere. That we will come through this better and stronger than we were before.
I want to close with a verse consistent with today’s theme. I want to share with you a verse from Romans 8, and I pray that we will keep the words in our hearts. Paul writes this, “He says, who shall separate us from the love of Christ. Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us.
God bless each and every one of ya’ll”
The messages delivered that day by the speakers was powerful and inspiring. Through these very troubled times that we live in, it is important for us to remember what gives us our value and our worth. It is important that we continue to strive against our troubles that face ourselves, our state and our nation. That with continued effort, we too shall overcome.