God Gives Us Opportunities
I was born April 15, 1980. But even before I was born, the Lord began protecting me. I learned later that my mother considered aborting me because she was battling the fact that she would be a single parent. At first, I was angry because it hurt to hear that I was almost taken from the world before I would even arrive. Today, I thank the Lord for just protecting me.
My childhood was fine as far as receiving love from my parents and getting the things that I needed. My parents were not married but we all stayed together until I was fifteen. For awhile, going to church was important to my family, but I never had a relationship with Christ. Then my mom moved to a town about an hour away and I stayed with my dad. That was hard for me, even though I still saw my mom on the weekends or when she would come to my school functions.
As I got older and I went away to attend Texas A&M University, I relied on my own rules. The party scene was where you could find me. The things that really had me in bondage were alcohol and women. I would lie to get either in my possession. I would party not to have a good time but solely to get a girl to come home with me. I had a problem with lying. I would say anything to get my way. I would even lie to myself to fool myself. I had no standards of what I would lie about or to whom I would lie. Freedom is something that I had and took advantage of and I became out of control.
Then, one day one of my friends asked me, “If you died today would you go to heaven or hell?” Even though it was a rhetorical question, because of the person I was at the time, I told myself that I would go to heaven. But the truth was not in me. The truth was that if I instantly died, I would have died in a life of sin and gone straight to hell.
But God gives us opportunities to come to Him. I had some great friends that kept planting seeds of truth in me. I was always around someone who would hold me accountable for my actions. I finally realized that being a Christian had nothing to do with the fact that I went to church when I was younger or that my friends and family believed in Christ. No matter how many people wanted it for me, I had to believe in Jesus and decide for myself to surrender my life to God and live for Him.
It took awhile for me to see that my life was not pleasing to God. I thank God that He gave me time to confess and repent of my sins. I was 21 years old before I surrendered my life to Christ. It was the biggest and best decision I could have ever made. I remember reading Psalm 51 thinking of how amazing the Bible is: It described how I was feeling and had the prayer that I wanted to ask of Him. The most remarkable thing is that He gave His only Son so that we may have everlasting life if we believe in Him (John 3:16).
I no longer have the need for alcohol or for women, and lying is no longer a problem. It has not been easy, but I have been incredibly blessed to work in the NFL. Walking with God does not take my problems away and it does not mean that I am a perfect person (thanks to God I have changed). But it means that I can go to heaven and spend eternity with Him. And for the rest of my time on earth I am to worship God with how I live my life.
Written by Billy Yates, Offensive Guard for the Cleveland Browns
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