What God Has Taught Me Through Sport:
God instills interests, talents and passions in all of us. It’s kind of a win win for everyone because we all get to enjoy things that we are good at doing and God gets to use these areas to teach us and mold us into who He so badly wants us to be. In my life, the platform that God has been able to use the past nine years has been running.
I have failed, succeeded, and most importantly learned to love equally, live whimsically, and act courageously throughout my years as a runner. This past summer I felt led by God to make this cross-country season my last season of competitive running in order to focus on other specific areas in my life. With that in mind, these past 6 months of training, racing and teammate shenanigans have provided me with lessons different than any from the past nine years.
God taught me the importance of being at peace. Peace is a concept that I am quick to overlook or deem as less important than other values. There is the kind of peace that comes through lounging in a hot tub, placed in the middle of a forest on a chilled winter day with nothing to see but a fresh layer of snow for miles, there is the kind of peace that comes in little candy form and tastes like a peanut butter-chocolate heaven, and then there is the type of peace that is rooted deeper than whatever circumstance you find yourself in, good or bad. That last type of peace is the kind that I was fortunate enough to learn and experience over the course of this cross- country season.
Whether it was learning how to dance in the back of a Tour Bus on a seven hour ride to South Carolina or embracing my teammates with delirious hugs right after we raced our hearts and guts out together; with every memory I gained, the decision to not be a part of the team next year became more difficult to come to terms with. But I was still at peace through the confusion and second-guessing. My freshmen teammates instantly became some of my closest friends on the team but even though it hurt to think about leaving them as quickly as I got to know them, there was a peace that was stronger. This season arguably turned in to my favorite and most successful season of running ever, and even though I became curious of the unknown amounts of success I could possibly achieve in the seasons to come, God ’s peace lead me down a different path.
While meeting first with my coaches and next with my teammates that same evening, emotion weighed heavy on my heart as I choked up the words “I will no longer be running.”
Doubt began to creep in my mind, making me second guess a decision I had spent the past six months thinking and praying about. Even now, three days after the fact, there is a pressing sadness and bitter sting that comes along with the thought of never toeing the line with my teammates again; never being their teammate again.
I guess the reason I am sharing this sob story is to show just how much stronger and hopeful this God-given peace is. It is amazing that in the midst of pain, sadness and confusion, there is something rooted deeper that is continuing to drive me in a different direction. Although there is pain in letting go, there is comfort in moving forward. This decision has and will continue to take a lot of trust.
But when I think about it, this is what I want my relationship with God to always look like. I want to always be in positions where I have to trust Him because that means I am living in an active and obedient relationship with God.
And although trusting God sometimes means doing the scariest thing we could possibly imagine, we get to have peace knowing that this omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent being that we get to call Father, will not abandon us.
Part of the reason why I am choosing to stop running is to spend more time getting plugged in to my church and knowing God.
There is a difference between knowing about God, and knowing God; and I believe that the more I know Him, the more I will be able to not only recognize this peace in my life, but His presence in its entirety.
Even now I am learning to cope with the fact that I cannot and will never be perfect, but this doesn’t keep God from wanting me to know and understand His presence. Through lies of the enemy, I am the only thing that gets in the way of knowing God’s peace, His love, His voice and everything else about His presence. This season I learned that when God is telling me do to something, no matter how mind-bogglingly difficult or confusing, there will be a peace that comes along with it. A peace that is stronger than any doubt or any pain. Thank you Father for making me aware of your peace and allowing it to give me the courage I need to follow your greater plan.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” -Colossians 3:15
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Lipscomb Men’s Cross Country and Track