Every day is a struggle to live freely with peace and joy (granted some are harder than others.) It is for this reason that Jesus came. To give us freedom. To give us joy. To give us everlasting peace. These things can only be found in Him. So let’s honor the life Jesus died to give us by placing our identity in who Jesus says we are, and not in who this world tries to make us. This is a daily battle we must overcome together.
I’ve played soccer my whole life. God has blessed me with a passion for the game and with a unique talent and ability to play at the best level. It still blows my mind at times. In life, we are all faced with choices. We choose what to eat, who to hang out with, what we like and what we don’t like. Soccer was always my choice growing up and it sure turned out to be the right choice, no doubt! Most of the time, soccer was a pretty easy choice (although it did come with its sacrifices) but it was a choice that I gladly made and would make again if I could do it all over.
I loved soccer and I came alive when I was on the field. And because I was pretty good at it, the more I played, the more I made a name for myself. People started remembering Wells Thompson as the short, floppy-haired kid who could really get after it on the soccer field. Soccer was my life, and it became my identity.
Our sinful nature drives us to place our identity in anything and everything except the One in which we are truly meant to find ourselves: Jesus.
My path to the professional level was one that included many obstacles and challenges. I tried out several times for the Olympic Development Program, but never made it. I was not highly recruited for college. In fact, I was only a recruited walk-on at Wake Forest University, one of the powerhouses of college soccer over the past decade.
But every time I was turned down or overlooked, every game I didn’t start or play, any team I didn’t make, all of these things only made me work harder. I have always strived to be the best at everything I do, sometimes to an unhealthy extreme, so I was miserable when things were not going well for me on the soccer field. Sadly, soccer had become my idol. I was living my life in rebellion against the first and greatest commandment God gives us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). Sadly, I had grown to love soccer more than God Himself.
Through much heartache and struggle, prayer and support from family and friends and guidance from the Holy Spirit, God began to open my eyes to the man God created me to be in Christ! As a Christian, I understand that “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Instead of seeking His ways and His will for my life, I was selfishly trying to gain the worldly definition of recognition and fame. Soccer is a blessing from God, but the Lord continues to remind me every day that I must continue putting God first in all things, trusting that He will lead me wherever He wants me and bless me with whatever He chooses.
Colossians 3:1-4 reminds me that “if then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
It is because of verses like these from God’s living Word, and because of prayer and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, that I am able to stay focused on Jesus and on the true reason I am here in the first place: to live for and love Him and others with all that I am! Everything, absolutely everything other than Jesus will fail, disappoint, or let you down! True, total, pure, unfathomable, and complete peace is only found in Jesus!
Keep fighting and don’t ever give up! Jesus is who He says He is. Victory is His! Victory is yours! Victory is ours!
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).