When I learned the details of Michael Phelps’ secret struggles, I realized he was in desperate need of our prayers. This really broke my heart.
For more than a decade, Michael Phelps has been in the spotlight for not only his gift of swimming, but also his unfortunate battle with substance abuse.
Many are quick to label Phelps — the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, winning 22 medals — 18 of them gold in swimming — as another “punk” athlete caught in a downward spiral of poor decisions.
However, the 31-year-old swimmer recently revealed how he almost committed suicide in September 2014 — but everything changed when God stepped into his life in the most extraordinary way.
“I was a train wreck. I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost,” Phelps revealed.
Phelps “hit rock bottom” after getting arrested for drunk driving on Sept. 30, 2014 — marking his second DUI arrest within 10 years. Shortly before his arrest, a controversial photo had also emerged showing him smoking an illegal substance.
In the days following the incident, Phelps isolated himself in his bedroom in his Baltimore home, considering suicide.
At that time, Phelps claimed he was thinking, “This is the end of my life… How many times will I mess up? Maybe the world would be better without me.”
While isolating himself, Phelps didn’t eat, and hardly slept for at least a week as he continued pondering the idea of killing himself. That’s when God sent him a miracle in the most heartwarming way…
That’s when Phelps’ long-time friend, NFL star Ray Lewis, an outspoken Christian, came to his rescue. Before convincing Phelps to enter rehab, Lewis shared a few wise words with his brother in Christ.
“This is when we fight. This is when real character shows up. Don’t shut down. If you shut down we all lose,” Lewis told Phelps.
Thankfully, Phelps heeded his Christian friend’s advice and entered the rehab facility. However, it was the shocking gift from Lewis that Phelps packed with him that had the most profound impact on him.
When Phelps went to rehab, he entered carrying “The Purpose Driven Life,” by Rick Warren — his gift from Lewis.
After reading “The Purpose Driven Life” for a couple days at rehab, Phelps called Lewis.
“Man this book is crazy! The thing that’s going on…oh my gosh…my brain, I can’t thank you freaking enough, man. You saved my life,” Phelps told Lewis with excitement.
In a recent interview with ESPN Magazine, Phelps explained that the Christian book “turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet.”
The Christian book also convinced Phelps to make amends with his estranged father, Fred, who divorced his wife when Phelps was just 9-years-old. For Phelps, Chapter 20 of “The Purpose Driven Life” weighed heavy on his heart. The chapter begins with 2 Cor. 5:18, which reads:
“(God) has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us the ministry of restoring relationships.”
When Phelps and his father saw each other for the first time in years, they embraced in a big hug.
“I didn’t want to have that ‘what if.’ I didn’t want to go through life without having the chance to share emotions I wanted to share with him. That’s what I missed as a kid,” Phelps said.
Little did Phelps know then, God was about to change his life in even more extraordinary ways.
After leaving rehab in November 2014, Phelps resumed training for the Rio Olympics.
Three months later, Phelps asked his long-time girlfriend, Nicole Johnson, to be his wife. On May 5, 2015 the couple received their greatest blessing when Boomer Robert, their first child, was born.
Phelps proved he still has what it takes to be a legend in multiple events, swimming the fastest 200 meter individual medley, 100 meter butterfly and 200 meter butterfly at the 2015 U.S. National Championships.
While the champion was celebrating his 31st birthday on June 30, Phelps qualified in three individual distances, plus possibly three relays for the US Olympic swimming team in Rio.
When I heard what Phelps plans to do after competing in the 2016 Olympics, I realized God was using him in extraordinary ways.
Phelps announced that Rio 2016 will be his fifth and last Olympics — meaning it will be his final chance to give God all the glory in front of the world, and leaving fans wondering what “purpose” he will share with us after.
Michael Phelps’ testimony illustrates the salvation and peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ. When the devil tried to detour Phelps’ Olympic dreams with substance abuse and family problems, God sent him a miracle in the form of a Christian book given to him by his brother in Christ. Phelps’ restored Christian faith empowered him to persevere and reach heights most athletes will never see.
Please keep Michael Phelps in your prayers as he competes in his final Olympics! His testimony is sharing the message of Jesus Christ in the most healing and powerful way – at a time when the world needs it now more than ever. God bless him!
Please share this article to show the world the power of Jesus Christ! You could save a life.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23