At a recent charity event, former Melbourne Football Club champion and now media personality, David "the Ox" Schwartz, shared his battle with gambling addiction. From his early draft to the Melbourne Demons Schwartz gambled heavily. As his pay and endorsements increased into the millions, so too did his gambling debts. The AFL legend of 173 games with 244 goals made few friends at his club as his self-focused lifestyle revolved around his next bet. His "underworld" connections and his bad debts spiraled out of control, yet Schwartz was unable to see the trouble he was in.
Gambling is an addiction. And, like addiction to drugs, it can cause great distress to all those involved. With great honesty, the Ox told a football administrator that he was considering retirement, to which the person said, "Good, get out!" With few friends and great financial debts, Schwartz had a matter of weeks until complete bankruptcy, yet like all gamblers, he thought he had a betting chance to punt his way out of it. The final straw came when his girlfriend (now wife) confronted him and appealed to him to admit he was sick and make a fresh start. Showing great honesty and humility, Schwartz began the toughest battle of his life, and after five years has cleared his debts and has not made a bet since. His story, revealed in his new book, shows the danger of uncontrolled gambling.
Schwartz knows he is blessed to have a second chance. He said he did not deserve it, but he is thankful for another chance to raise his family and warn others, like young AFL players, of the dangers gambling can bring.
Well-Being theologian explains that Jesus' story is all about a second chance. Like Schwartz, we must see that we can't do it by ourselves. We don't love God the way He deserves, and we don't care for our mates the way we want to be cared for. We fall short of God's standard. Jesus says that He comes to give us a second chance: To retire from our career which is all about living for ourselves, and to start as a new player living for Jesus. And all because He paid all our debts for us.
Gambling helpline: www.problemgambling.vic.gov.au