At the height of his athletic success, Anthony Bass could bench press 400 pounds and could squat 600 pounds, but despite his physical strength, he knew in life there was only one thing that could truly make him strong as a man – his relationship with Jesus Christ.
“For me to be strong means to endure, in the challenging times of life and to be obedient to God in all times,” said Bass, who spoke this past Sunday night during the monthly Mancave event held at Cornerstone Christian Church in Redwood Falls.
Bass said what makes a man strong is not just how much he can lift but the kind of man he is physically, intellectually and spiritually.
He also said in his own life he has learned a strong man must be willing to be vulnerable.
“Men don’t like to hear that,” said Bass, adding the reality is today people are vulnerable, they just mask that vulnerability by trying to cover it up with other things like drugs, alcohol or even sex.
Bass, who works with church relations for Teen Challenge, spoke with authority because he saw it and experienced it firsthand.
Growing up in West Virginia, Bass admitted there were times he made very bad choices. Yet, he saw success on the football field.
“I was a blue chip football player in high school,” he said.
His goal was to play football at the college level, when that college came looking it picked someone else – a guy by the name of Randy Moss.
“I did not handle what I felt was rejection very well,” said Bass, who then opted to find a small college where he would play football.
Despite playing for a school that did not offer the attention he might have gotten elsewhere, Bass’ success still drew looks from scouts, and he was drafted by the Steelers.
An injury hampered his ability to show what he could really do, and in the end he was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings who then cut him only later to pick him up again. Bass played for two seasons in the NFL before making a life-changing decision.
Bass, who played with the Vikings during the late 90s was living the good life. He was getting faster and stronger and had earned a starting spot with an NFL team.
“Then God called me out of the NFL,” said Bass. “He told me he wanted me to feed his sheep, and so I left the NFL.”
Having gotten married and started a family, Bass said he realized his wife had not married him for the right reasons, and after moving back to West Virginia and working for some time as a youth leader for a church, Bass felt he had no choice but to file for a divorce.
Page 2 of 2 - “She married me because I was in the NFL,” he said, “and when I quit she cheated on me.”
Bass said one of the hardest decisions he ever had to make was to file for divorce and to leave his kids behind, as he lost custody because he had no stable income, while he returned to Minnesota, but he truly believed that was what God was calling him to do.
“I could not bench press my way out of this,” he said. “I had to be obedient to God and to trust that he would be there for my kids. This was a test of my soul.”
Bass admitted in life he really just wanted to be a dad and when that was all taken away from him he really had to lean on God.
“What I learned through all of this is that God is still good even when we believe he has taken everything that means something to us away,” said Bass. “If we just give the pain to God he will fill us with his love.”
Bass said God uses those times of challenges to build us up and to show us we are not able to do what he wants on our own.
“God uses our life situations, our hurts, our shortcomings and failures to help us see who he wants us to be,” said Bass. “The storms of life are going to come. The real test of your strength is how you stand in those storms. We need to be standing on the rock that is our God.”
Bass said he knows his life story is not the same as anyone else’s, and he knows there are people who have experienced a lot of pain in life.
Yet, he said, God promised to be there for us, and he is going to see us through to the end
“He has something great in store for you and he will help you find the strength to endure if you will trust him,” said Bass.