The Christian Athlete

I don’t typically write directly about myself on this blog, but I feel like God has given me a message and the motivation to do just that here. So bare with me as I try to speak what he has been saying to me recently and hopefully he will speak to you through this as well.

At this point, many of you know that I am currently a student at Liberty University. I have also been blessed with the opportunity to compete for Liberty on their Division 1 Track and Field team. This is now my final season that I am eligible to compete. That being said, as much as I love the opportunity I have been given, there have certainly been trails and challenges along the way that I have had to overcome. Though I wont be getting into many of those trials, they certainly make this final stretch important to me. Though the emotion of this being my last season has not set in, from the start, the drive most definitely has. From the initial challenge of transitioning from a very small high school to a highly competitive University, and encountering injuries that often seemed to cripple my hope in being successful along with my confidence that God has a plan for me here, the journey up to this point only fuels me for what’s just up ahead. Though excitement fills me for my final season to make an impact here, I have recently felt old clammy hands sprouting from the ground grabbing my legs and slowing me down as I try to run. With everything I have, I stride looking forward trying to avoid glancing at what’s causing me to strain. But ignorance only resolves the debilitating fantasies within our minds causing us to lose focus. Ignorance is foolish when the battles are real, and real they are.

Today in practice, one of my coaches came to me after we got done finishing our workout and said, “Way to bring the intensity today. Let’s bring that same intensity to the meet.” It was encouraging words for an athlete like me to hear who has been struggling to compete up to the standard I feel like I should be competing at. Still, when he spoke those words, another voice spoke inside me. It spoke to me because even though I gave my all during the workout, my all is capped by what I’m doing outside the track to better myself. It told me, “As good as today was, it’s still not all you really have. You could bring all this intensity you brought here to the next meet, but inside you will know that you could have been better. You could have been smarter in preparing for it. And if you truly want to see what you can do on the track and what you can give to this team, then you need to give to me what you said you had already given to me when this all began.”

There is nothing “spiritual” about Track and Field. In fact, there is nothing “spiritual” about most of the things we end up doing in life. They are worldly things that come and go as time moves. But the things we choose to do and invest in do not go unnoticed by God. Colossians 3:17 says,

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I made a statement at my return to Liberty for my final year that if Track and Field means nothing else to me, let it be a reflection of my dedication and commitment to my relationship with Christ. I woke up every day with focus and drive, with the understanding that this whole track “gig” is affected by every little thing that I do. That means it is affected by how hard I train on every single rep, the food I put into my body, the sleep I get every night, and the little things I need to do for bodily maintenance. There is no cutting corners when it comes to competing at a high level, and there is certainly no cutting corners when it comes to following Christ. To give God glory in all that you do is to not only give your best when people are watching, like going to church and talking with people about the Gospel. To give God gory in all that you do is to let God consume all the little things in life that you say and do. If Track and Field is impacted by every little thing you do here in this perishable world, then how much more is your eternal relationship to God impacted by every little thing you say and do? Let him consume it all. Give it all to him.

The reason I couldn’t say I was satisfied by the encouragement my coach gave me is because I have more to give than what he even saw. You can’t give something you are not willing to give to God first. God never calls us into mediocrity. He never wishes that we do “just enough” to be called his child. John 10:10 says,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. “

God offers us abundant peace. He offers us abundant joy and an abundance more. To be actively pursuing your relationship with Christ is a blessing we could never have asked for, but a blessing Christ actively allows us to experience.

I love to run. It is painful at times, but I wouldn’t ever trade away the abilities God has given me. As Christians, we are all athletes running the race God has set before us. And like every athlete, there are bad habits and small practical things that need to be put to death to fully reach your potential. Don’t let the dead hands reaching out from the grave slow you down and steal the abundance of joy God freely gives. Put them to death and run with abundant peace and joy, giving glory to God in all you say and do.

1 comment

  1. Brad, this is absolutely beautiful! thank you for sharing. It is way too easy to get caught up in the motions. It is imperative that we continue to surrender to God and choose to do the little things behind the scenes to continue “training” at a high level for His kingdom. It is so beautiful that our sport truly does reflect what living life for Christ looks like. We suffer as Christ suffered through the lactic acid and grueling workouts. God finds glory and delight in our suffering when we surrender it to Him and get to thank him in both the failures and victories. We have already won – we are already victorious.

    Excited to see where God is taking you! Keep on sharing your heart and soul!

    Like

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