The long wait, it had become epic in some minds
First some context: if you watched the inductions last night, you may have noticed comments before and even subtle references in his speech to how his snub for so many years was becoming the stuff of legend.
In fact, to get a clearer sense of the delay and the surprise to many, there's a site that was devoted to making the case for his induction, not so much presenting his career as showing all the many references over the years from many hall of famers who just assumed that Monk would make the Hall of Fame.
Reading that, you're naturally left scratching your head, wondering "why the long wait?" Some will assert various reasons, from his "being so quiet", to some voters feeling justified because of his numbers not impressing them, etc.
But perhaps there's a different explanation that's not been considered by many. Surely some appreciated it. While many may have been moved by his eloquent speech and the 4-minute standing ovation that started it, others will have noted and appreciated his frequent references to his faith in Christ, his heartfelt appreciation for the teammates who first shared the gospel with him, and most to the point here, his acknowledgement of God's being the reason for his success.
But as Art himself said, "what I've tried to convey to those who were upset about the process was that I was okay with it". Why? I'll let him speak for himself. You can read the complete transcript here, and I offer the most significant excerpts (related to this aspect of his speech) below.
So why the long wait? God's Providence
So here's a different take on why his induction may have been so delayed: God's providential hand. By holding back some of the voters, it made the whole matter take on a much more prominent place in the mind of the media, NFL, and fans paying attention.
Surely many were paying more attention to his speech to hear "what's he gonna say?" than may have bothered if he'd gotten in on the first or even first couple of ballots.
But what did they hear as his response to that long wait? Nothing salacious, bitter, nor even much for sound bytes.
Instead, he (and his son speaking just before him) praised God, representing Christ and Christians everywhere wonderfully and without reserve. In a world where Christians are so often lampooned and dismissed, it was a joy to see God glorified on such a national stage.
God orchestrates all things to His glory. I'm sure Art himself may see this eventually (if not already) as his "desert experience": painful in the moment, but with patience and faith, it all works out in the end, for "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
Soli Deo Gloria!
Excerpt from his son's speech
Here's the key related excerpt from his son's introductory speech, unedited here:
"Dad's greatness never came from his ability to play football, but it came because he wanted to be used by God for his glory, above all.
He realized and held onto the gifts and talents that God blessed him with. And the bible says to build your foundation on a rock. Solid rock. For when the storm comes, you will not shake or you will not be moved for your foundation is well built.
Dad built his foundation on the strongest rock of all and that was Jesus Christ.
And because of this he was able to weather many storms and stay consistently strong on the football field, at home, at church, and at work. And from his actions I have learned the following: I've learned that less is more. I've learned not only to become a man of success, but be a man of value; that my decisions should be guided by Christian principles.
It is not hard to make the right decision when you know your value and where you stand. Through the outcomes of hard work and dedication is success. That there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ.
That the reward for hard work is the opportunity to do more. Nobody gets anywhere in this world by just being content with where you are. And that my identity does not come from this world or what people say or write or think about you, but it comes from the one and only Jesus Christ.
So to answer the question, do you want to be like Art Monk when you grow up, my answer is I'd rather be like dad.
Dad, thank you for being the man of God, that God has called you to be and for raising me in the same."
Excerpts from Art's speech
And here are the key related excerpts from Art's speech:
"What I've tried to convey to those who were upset about the process was that I was okay with it. But in all due respect, that as great as this honor is, it's not what really defines who I am or the things that I've been able to accomplish in my life.
I'll always be known as a Redskin.
That's right. And even now as a Hall of Famer, the one thing I want to make very clear is that my identity and my security is found in the Lord. And what defines me and my validation comes in having accepted his son Jesus Christ as my personal savior. And what defines me is the word of God and it's the word of God that will continue to shape and mold me into the person that I know he's called me to be.
So I've learned a long time ago never to put my faith or trust in man, for man will always fail you. Man will always disappoint you. But the word of God says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And he will never fail you.
And that is what I live by and what I stand on."
And later he would acknowledge those who shared the Gospel with him:
"I'm close with a lot of my former teammates that really helped me along the way. But there's one specific group that has become like family to me. There's Monte Coleman, there's Charles Mann, Darrell Green, there's Tim Johnson and Ken Coffey. Because they're the ones who not only took the time to share the gospel to me, but they also demonstrated it in their lives, which allowed me to receive the gospel for myself.
And this was a life changing experience for me. Their example showed me what it meant to love and serve and honor your wife and to be faithful to her and to be the right example for my children. I greatly appreciate God using them and putting them in my life. Thank you, guys."
But I'd like to conclude my excerpts with another section where he again gave God the glory:
"There's a scripture that I think about almost every day and I've come to personalize it to my life. It says: Lord who am I that you are mindful of me? And the Apostle Paul says think of what you were when you were called. Not many were wise by human standards. Not many were influential. Not many were born of noble birth. And when I look at my life and how I grew up, I certainly had none of those qualities or benefits.
But I understand and I know that I'm here not by in and of my own strength but it's by the grace and the power of God upon my life who I know gave me favor along the way and who provided opportunity and room for me to use my gifts.
So I am very grateful to receive this honor, and I can stand here before you and say, hey, look at me, look what I did. But if I'm going to boast, I'm going to boast today in the Lord, for it's because of him that I'm here and I give him thanks and glory and honor for all that he has done for me."
Amen to that.
If you would ask, what is "the gospel"?, there are various presentations online to learn more. Here's a well-done, reasonably brief yet complete one. Sadly, it can't be communicated in a single sentence, without doing injustice to the complete message. And it's in your interest to hear the complete message, which is indeed the Good News to those who hear and respond to it.