This story appears in FCA Magazine’s November/December 2015 issue. Subscribe today!
Every fall, young men around the country strap on their helmets and ready themselves to compete on the gridiron. The opponents are mere obstacles along the way, with the hope of a season culminating with a national title.
Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram
Inevitably, though, the weeks march on and the season fades into another. The wins this year are forgotten by the next—temporary marks dotting the college football history books.
For the young men profiled on the following pages, the pursuit of an earthly victory serves as an act of worship to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Jesus is the one and only Undefeated One; His victory upon the cross has given all of mankind forgiveness and life eternal.
Each of these athletes—led by Ole Miss All-America tight end Evan Engram—compete with freedom, knowing that no matter the results, the ultimate victory has already been won.
In this, the sixth annual edition of FCA Magazine’s college football player profiles, each athlete shares how Christ’s victory over sin and death impacts their approach to football. We pray their answers will inspire you to compete, coach and live to honor the Lord for the free blessing of grace, forgiveness and everlasting life promised to us through Him.
Q&A with Ole Miss Tight End Evan Engram
#17 – Jr./TE/Powder Springs, Ga.
FCA: How has your faith grown while you’ve been at Ole Miss?
EE: I had always identified myself as a Christian. I went to church growing up, but I wasn't living it the right way. When I got to Ole Miss, I was surrounded with godly men like [FCA’s] John Powell, Coach [Hugh] Freeze and the entire football coaching staff. I learned from them and their wisdom based in their individual faiths. They held me accountable in my walk with Christ.
Through their influence, I've grown a lot. I’ve learned to be a leader. I’ve gotten into God’s Word and grown in that aspect in my relationship with Him, which has definitely made a huge impact on my life and how I can impact others.
FCA: Are there any specific lessons God has taught you through your deeper relationship with Him?
EE: I have learned that everything is part of His plan. I worked so hard as a freshman and earned a starting job. I was making plays and feeling great. And then, midway through the year, my ankle was torn up and I was done for the rest of the year.
At first, I was quick to be mad at God. Why would He take the game away from me so fast? But that experience allowed me to spend more time with Him. I also met so many great people and was able to learn the importance of academics in addition to football.
It taught me that God has a plan, and everything that happens in our life happens for a reason. It's all from Him. He knows our next step before we even think about taking it.
FCA: How does your relationship with God impact your approach to the game of football?
EE: Football is a gift from God in my life, and I thank Him every day for it. I thank Him for the ability to walk, to run, to have the athletic ability to play football. And for putting me around godly men on our coaching staff and godly brothers on my team.
While we battle for victories on the field, we understand and believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection was the ultimate victory. The grace He gives us is a gift; we don't have to earn it. We don't have to do anything special for it. We wake up every morning with a ‘W’ because of what He did for us. It's a blessing to serve a God who sacrificed everything He had for us.
FCA: What’s it mean to be able to share the message of Christ through the game of football?
EE: Our coaches tell us every day to “impact somebody's life.” I realize that people look up to me because I play football. God’s put me on a stage to be able to serve Him in my everyday life and serve others as well. I don’t take the opportunity lightly that I'm able to share God’s Word and impact lives.
To read additional college football player profiles, click here.
Bringing It Home Devotional: Ultimate Victory
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” – 1 Corinthians 15:57
In asking college football players across the country how Jesus’ ultimate victory upon the cross impacts their approach to the game of football, responses ranged from faith-stretching to unmerited grace to freedom to a drive to give their all. One common thread woven through their answers, though, was how their heart remains steady and calm because it’s rooted in their Savior and not the swing of the scoreboard.
The motivation in each of these athletes’ lives isn’t the pressure to earn as many victories as possible, but holding fast to Jesus, who recorded the win that erases every loss in life—no matter what. Through God’s precise game plan to redeem His people, Jesus suffered through and completed the ultimate win when He went upon the cross and defeated sin and death.
For Arizona State linebacker Laiu Moeakiola, all he does on and off the field is fueled by God’s win on the cross: “It gives me peace and encouragement to know that the true battle has already been won through Jesus.”
This gives each of them—and all of us—freedom and confidence to approach the daily grind of life knowing we don’t have to worry about performance or pressure to keep our teammates, coaches, family and friends impressed by our “stats.” In the shaky realm of competition, where wins and losses hang in the balance of one play or poor preparation, we can stand steady on the Rock of God.
Let’s set our sights on the goal line of Christ’s grace. As Auburn wide receiver Jonathan Wallace reminds us, “He will never fail us. His love for us is the victory.”
May we live abundantly in the blessing of Christ and keep assured of the triumph of our rich identity. We are overcomers and participants in a truly undefeated season—eternity. Thanks be to God for His sweet victory!
• How often do you let wins and losses dictate how your day goes?
• What truths of God and His plan for your life do you need to hold onto today?
• What could it look like if you believed that Jesus gave you ultimate victory over every situation in your life?
Dear Father, thank You for giving complete victory to me through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. May I accept this truth, cease striving, and live in confident assurance to play my part in sharing this good news with the people in my life. Amen.
Photos courtesy of JOSHUA MCCOY/OLE MISS ATHLETICS
–This article appears in the November/December 2015 issue of FCA Magazine. To view the issue digitally, click here: November/December 2015 FCA Mag Digital
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