During my high school years, I always tried to glorify myself in different areas of life: sports, girls, nice car, grades, etc. I did whatever it took to impress my friends, even if that meant getting in trouble or being a bully to others.
I was an arrogant athlete who won the athletic awards at school, didn’t accept anything below an A, was comfortably situated in the “popular” social circle, and always received the constant attention and affirmation from a girlfriend. I believed at the time that this was the best life one could live.
I didn’t realize how empty my life was until my sophomore year of college. The idols that I had placed my trust and comfort in had begun to slowly fail me and I began to feel more and more discontent with everything. I noticed how superficial my friendships were and how I didn’t feel like I had a place I could truly refer to as my “home” or “family” like some of my college friends did. I started to ask myself, “Is this all life is?”
A few months into my sophomore year I joined a Christian ministry. There I witnessed and received sacrificial love from my new friends, heard about God’s character and attributes from the Bible during services, and ultimately experienced God drawing me to Himself.
All these things redirected me and pointed my eyes, heart, and thoughts towards a truth infinitely greater than I thought I could see, feel or imagine. God had opened my blind eyes to behold, transplanted a new heart in me to believe, and indwelt me with his Holy Spirit to know and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
I knew I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I wanted to know Jesus.
What’s keeping you from following Christ? Here are a few possible things:
· You fear losing friends who would see you differently because of your decision
· You don’t want your life to change and are comfortable where you are
· You can live how you want to now while you’re young and follow Christ when you get older
My wrestling with the decision to follow Jesus might have been shorter than most. I knew my life would change if I were to follow Him, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to. It took me about a week after hanging out with my new Christian friends to finally commit my life to following Jesus. I knew that there was something different about these friends and that they had a different source of joy. It was evident to me that their source of joy was Jesus. I wanted that joy. I got to a point where I wanted to know this Jesus that they talked about, regardless of what the outcome and consequences might be.
At that point, I didn’t care if I had to lose friends, quit a sport I loved, or start speaking differently. I knew I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I wanted to know Jesus. I committed my life to following Him in 2016, and since then, my life has changed radically.
I actually don’t like saying “my life has changed,” because I don’t believe I was living before Christ. I was dead rather than alive. Christ has brought me, a dead sinner, to life. Through His grace, He allowed me to experience what living actually is. To live is Christ. We were created to be in a relationship with the God who created us and everything in the universe, and there is nothing more awesome than that.
Athlete, if you are wrestling with the decision to follow Christ, let me tell you that this need not be anymore. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords came down in the form of a servant and laid down His life for us so that we could be reconciled to God and adopted into His family.
He bore our sins in his own body so that we would be free from the condemning power of sin. He died in order that we might live in freedom. Even while He’s our exalted King, He calls those who follow Him friends.
There is no truer and closer friend than Christ. Athlete, there is no greater joy than having a relationship with Christ. Make the decision to repent and follow Christ, and you will discover that knowing Christ is the secret to true freedom and joy.