But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. - Philippians 3:7
Everyone has one at least one favorite game-changing sports moment. It’s that one play during a game that changes everything. In a single moment, momentum shifts, and it alters the outcome of the game. Sometimes, the play not only changes the game, but also an athlete’s entire career. Some of my personal favorite game-changers include David Tyree’s catch from Eli Manning on fourth and long in the 2008 Super Bowl, Christian Laettner's last-second jumper in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, Kirk Gibson's 1988 pinch-hit home run in the World Series, and, of course, Doug Flutie’s famous “Hail Mary” pass in 1984.
Game-changers have a huge impact on sports history. Some would say those moments are why we watch and play sports. But the real question is not what sports game-changers are the most impacting, but rather, what spiritual game-changer has most impacted your life? Do you have one of those moments—one that altered everything in your life and forced you to see life differently?
The ultimate game-changer for anyone is the moment we place our faith and trust in our living Savior, and we ask Jesus Christ to be the Lord of our lives. If you have done that already, what would be your next spiritual game-changer? Has the Lord ever gripped your life in such a way that shifted the spiritual momentum and changed the way you see things?
For me, this happened on August 4, 2007. I was standing in front of a grave in Seoul, South Korea. It was the burial site of someone I didn’t even know. I was in Korea with an FCA ministry team doing a sports camp during the 100-year anniversary of the Pyongyang Great Revival. In 1907, God had stirred in the hearts of men and women in Korea to be authentic—to come clean before others. It started with the leaders going before their congregations to lay down their pride and admit their sins. Revival pushed back the gates of hell, and heaven crashed to earth. Many early missionaries to Korea were beheaded, speared and burned. Their blood was the catalyst that brought massive revival.
So, on August 4, when we visited a cemetery in Seoul that honored the first Christian martyrs in Korea, we saw about 510 of the graves in the Foreigners Cemetery Park that contained the remains of foreign missionaries and their family members. To see all the graves of those missionaries who had been beheaded was a real spiritual gut-check. As I walked through the grave sites and saw the quotes and Scriptures on the graves, I was overwhelmed. But the one that altered everything for me was the tombstone of a woman named Ruby Kendrick. She was a young missionary from Texas who had responded to the call to preach the Gospel to the Korean people. She died at age 24, only eight months after she arrived in Korea, and her death inspired 12 young women to take her place.
This was the quote on her tombstone: “If I had a thousand lives to give, Korea should have them all.”
Ruby Kendrick was totally surrendered to the Lord’s work. She sacrificed everything, even her own life, for sake of the call. I thought to myself, if I had a thousand lives to give Christ, who or what would deserve them all? I couldn’t shake that question. What am I so sold-out to that I would offer up life after life for it? More importantly, what am I willing to do with this one life that I have? The desire to serve Jesus with reckless abandon is what He wants from me. When people get to a point where they are willing to lay down their life, God takes that surrendered life and uses it to break down strongholds and release revival.
That was a game-changer for me. I will never forget that moment and the spiritual momentum that shifted in my heart. It was not shown on ESPN’s Top 10, but it was a moment that changed my life. God confirmed in me that if I had thousands lives to give, athletes and coaches from every nation should have get them all! I long to see sports around the world transformed by God’s love, and I ask the Lord every day to bring revival to the athletic community and what He wants from me to help make that happen.
I daily strive to offer my life to His service, no matter what the outcome. His work; His way! How about you? If you had a thousand lives, who or what would deserve them all?
Lord, if I had a thousand lives to give, You deserve them all. Help me to see clearly how my life should be lived. Reveal Your desire for me. Thank You, Lord, for touching my life and transforming it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.