The Truth Will Set You Free
God had an amazing impact on my life growing up in a Christian family. I gave my life to Jesus at a very early age, but I didn’t really understand what following Christ meant until I got into high school. That’s when I started encountering challenges of peer pressure. I had to make a choice: would I be lukewarm or follow Christ all the way? I decided I really wanted to follow Him more.
Sports became my next challenge. I started playing football in middle school, but I never thought I’d be a good player. I compared myself to my older brother, and I never thought I’d be good enough to play in college. When I started getting offers, I was blown away that someone would choose me.
I was undersized as a tight end, and that brought a lot of confidence issues my freshman year. I worried about my weight, whether I would be good enough, and feeling like I had to prove myself. During my sophomore year, I started having heart palpitations during practices and was diagnosed with a condition where the heart has an extra electrical pathway. I ended up having surgery and was red-shirted for the season. This made it difficult for me to prove myself, since I felt like I had to gain my importance through playing football.
With a free summer, I decided to attend the Urban Project Los Angeles with eight other NC State athletes, and we had an awesome time growing in community with other believers. The whole week I was looking forward to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. because I heard it was a life changing experience, and I was looking for something that would change the way I looked at my sport and make me a better athlete. But the day of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L., I had to sit out because of my heart issues. I was frustrated, and it was hard to watch everyone else participate.
That night, I felt like God was telling me He wanted to use me for something special and had a lesson to teach me through it all. I used that time to learn how to encourage people, which is what I’d be doing the whole year ahead. I learned that my importance doesn’t come from my play. God also taught me a lot about the gospel. People have a mindset that we have to earn something, but with grace there is nothing we can do. It’s natural to want to repay this great gift, but we have done nothing to earn forgiveness. All there is to do is accept it.
That truth freed me up to play even better. My attitude was better, and I was free from feeling that I had to earn acceptance, because Christ approves of me. That year was hard for me, not traveling or feeling included, but I gained a new appreciation for the game. I enjoyed playing like never before because it wasn't about me, but about worshiping God with the talents he had given me. My confidence doesn't come from my performance, but from the sacrifice Christ gave for me on the cross.
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