Last week I was honored with the Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year from Athletes International Ministry and to be honest, I did not think that I would ever receive an award like this. Words can hardly describe how honored and thankful I was it was to be honored on the same stage and platform as people like Joe Namath and Matthew Barnett who have accomplished so much in their lives.
Why was I surprised to receive this award? Because even though I received significant playing time my sophomore year, softball wise, I didn’t play so much the other years, but it was my involvement in school and the community allowed me to stand out to the selection committee (and the perfect game I threw this past year certainly didn’t hurt.)
Let me tell you, this conference was incredible to be apart of. So many former professional athletes were present to share their passion for God, because unfortunately in this day and age, it happens less and less. There were current and former NFL players, as well as many other notable athletes speaking at the conference including William Greene, Devin “Eclipse” Wyman, JD Hall, Joe Jackson, and many others who wanted to share their passion for Christ and the miracles performed in their lives.
Let me tell you, their stories were absolutely incredible and so inspiring! So much so, that I want to share some of their wisdom with you. Sadly, I was only able to attend one meeting where these motivational athletes were speaking and I wish I had been able to go to more, but the duty of Christ calls and I went to work at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Flagstaff (which is a whole other post in itself.)
At the one meeting I was able to attend, “Death is sure, Christ is the cure,” are the key words that stuck with me from William Greene, former Cleveland Browns running back and devout follower of Christ. The way that I knew this death was emptiness, that nothing could satisfy or fulfill my life. That was until I found how Christ could fill it, give me a greater purpose than softball ever could. There is no escaping death; we will all die one way or another and none of us know when we will be recalled from Earth. However, there is one way to save ourselves from death, and that is through Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, so that we may live eternal lives in heaven. This all happens when we claim the Christ as our Lord and Savior, not an easy feat in itself because it takes time, commitment, and true belief. This is why one of my favorite parts about people’s testimonies is how their commitment to God took time, that they made the realization and decision that they wanted to do life with Christ, but life change is never easy and takes time to do, but hey, it can save your life.
Other words that touched me deeply came from New England Patriots defensive tackle Devin “Eclipse” Wyman, who stated, “I made a wrong choice, listening to a wrong voice.” His story of listening to a wrong voice occurred back in his hometown in East Palo Alto, Calif., where before he signed his National Letter of Intent, he was incarcerated for drug dealings. However, he came back and four years later instead of being a prisoner, he was number 72 for the New England Patriots. How many times have we all done that in our lives, making a dangerous decision by listening to the wrong voice in our heads? I know I have and I have paid the price for those mistakes, both big and small. See that’s part of our problems: listening to the desires of the flesh, not the desires of the Lord and his plan for us. To live a “Christ-like life,” we need to turn away from the voice of the flesh. As Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” But lets be honest, this is not easy to do, at all, and that’s okay. This is where Wyman continued on to say, “He [God] had to put me in the fire a little bit longer before he put me in the water to polish me off.” This way of life, of living Christ-like and dedicating your life to God does not happen over night. It takes time, of being left in the fire before God polishes us off. For example, I grew up in the church my entire life, but I did not fully dedicate my life to Christ until summer going into my junior year of high school. Even now I still find myself struggling, but that’s still me going through the fire and I would not be who I am now without this fire.
The people I met at this conference were incredible and I am so thankful to have met every one of them and thank you to Wendy and Larry Kerychuk for putting on such an inspiring and well-done event. I can't wait to see how God moves in this conference in the future.