“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” — Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
My daughter, Karen, never ceases to amaze me. Just when I get used to seeing her crowd surfing at concerts on that Snapchat stuff, she goes and does something that makes my heart sing with joy. This past week she was featured in her college newspaper, “The Waltonian” (she goes to Eastern University) for a devotional she wrote. I am so moved as a father and a writer in my own writ that I wish to share it with all of you. So, without further ado, here’s Karen….
“Being an athlete that has a faith in Christ is weird. Athleticism, at its core, is all about displaying your own strength, power, and abilities and faith in Christ is supposed to be, at its core, all about displaying His strength, power, and abilities. Essentially, calling yourself a Christian Athlete is contradictory. On top of all of that, how is it that we glorify God with how fast we can run, how well we can head a soccer ball, or how hard we can spike a volleyball? Romans 12 is a great chapter that really reminds us of the major keys of how we ought to live, and you bet I’m about to tell you to pull out your Bible and read it.
However, most relevant to the topic at hand, Paul, the author of Romans, commands those with spiritual gifts to use them and commands others to not discourage them from using their gifts. Similarly to being an athlete, God has gifted us with physical abilities that we are at an obligation to use in order to glorify Him. To those that are able to wake up and run ten miles and still go about their day, do it, simply because God allows you to. We should compete because it becomes a tool for the Lord and we become a servant to the Kingdom of God, something all believers in Christ have been commissioned to.
Competing allows us to be a witness for Christ, a seed to plant, a Bible to read; sometimes we are the only vessel for Christ someone may come across. Of course being an athlete does not mean that this is the only way to glorify God, but the same would apply to those with a beautiful singing voice or those with the ability to minister to the lost. It is advantageous for believers to manifest what God has gifted us. Athleticism is a way to worship Christ and a reminder to thank Him every second that He has gifted us with bodies that can endure double-over time, two hour lifting sessions, and 6AM practice.
Grammatically, a “Christian Athlete” would imply that Christian is an adjective, which is almost how faith is that to be “I’m tall, athletic, blonde, and Christian,” but Christian is the noun and athlete is the adjective. Our identity is found in Christ, not the other way around. God is too glorious and awesome to be found in our identity. Ultimately, calling yourself a student athlete comes with enough assumptions, don’t let Christian athlete become another stigma. Naming yourself as a follower of Christ means more than putting Philippians 4:13 in your Instagram bio or giving glory to Him only after a win, it’s about being that example of what an athletic Christian looks like and setting yourself apart at a meet or game.
A ref or official should be able to look at an Eastern jersey and recognize that this student won’t give them a hard time, will be an encouragement to others, and keep a level temperament. Sports should just be another realm of ministry to us not a pedestal to climb upon. There is a Celtic Prayer that asks “…not to fly from the world, but to be involved with the world. I am in the world but also in the presence of Jesus.” The rest of the world wants to put athletes on that pedestal and as Christians we should put Jesus in front of us on the pedestal.”
I hope this has spoken to your heart today it the way it spoke to mine. I wanna thank my little girl for her permission to share this so I can take the week off and use her devotional in place of my own work. I can’t express to all of you fathers out there enough on the value of having a daughter that saw Jesus in me enough to see Jesus in her. Our walks are being watched more than we realize. So fathers, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15-16). I wonder if she wants to partner with me on a book project? Hmm…
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.” — Euripides
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. Romans 14:6