Before this past season began my wife Yesenia and I started talking and praying together about what God wanted from us this year. We prayed consistently, knowing that we have a much more important purpose in life than just football. Our faith in Christ means more to us than any type of success I may have on the field, so we wanted to commit my career and love for the game completely over to the Lord, to be used for His Kingdom.
We knew that God had brought us to Philadelphia for a reason. Though we are far from our family and friends and don’t enjoy the cold at all, we know God has a purpose for us here. So as we prayed this prayer, I remember God clearly telling me that every person on the Eagles would know Him this year—not that everyone would necessarily accept Him into their heart, but they would at least know who He is.
Before this year we’ve had a bunch of guys on our team (I being the biggest culprit) who called themselves Christians but didn’t really have a strong relationship with Him. We were hearers of the Word, but not doers. But this year, many of us have made a stand for Christ.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” —James 1:22
For me personally, this was a gradual transition. I had always have called myself a Christian—after all, I grew up going to church every Sunday—but my faith was strictly based on what my mom and my grandparents believed. It wasn’t until I got to college that I really had to step out and meet Him on my own. Yet even then I wasn’t walking closely with God, instead I was living the college life, doing all the things that a typical college athlete does. But in my junior year, my girlfriend—who is now my wife—and I got a wake-up call when she found out she was pregnant. At that point we made a commitment to get married and start doing things the right way.
This past off-season has been an incredibly fruitful time for me in my spiritual walk. I began to be more intentional by reading God’s Word, praying, becoming more involved in our church, and surrounding myself with people who exemplified a bold faith—people who would speak truth to me.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” -Jeremiah 29:13
And I’m not the only one on my team this year who has been hungry to meet God. My faith in Him has grown tremendously by being around other men who want to know Christ. I’ve learned to be really open about myself and my faith so that God can use my life to encourage and strengthen others. Many guys on my team go through the same struggles that I have gone through or am going through now, and when we get real with each other, we can then encourage each other to grow closer to God, seeking His truth for any situation.
I remember when I first entered the NFL there were men who really encouraged me in my walk with God. In my first year, our quarterback Nick Foles was a huge example to me of what it means to be strong in your faith. Watching a faith as strong as his really challenged me to seek the same confidence in Christ. Since I know the impact that a teammate’s witness can have on others, I want to be a light to as many of my teammates as I can.
When a teammate comes to me with a question about the Bible or about living a life of faith in Christ, I want to be there to help them. I may not always know the right answers off the top of my head so I always go to the Word first. I firmly believe that opinions aren’t the truth, we cannot trust our feelings to guide us. So as much as I can, I like to gather multiple believers together to dive into God’s truth so that we can lean into the Spirit to give us an answer.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” —Hebrews 10:24-25
The Bible often speaks about living life in community—we can’t do this alone. My brothers on this team and I are trying to live out the Word of God and be the Church the way it was created to be. We want to have the same experiences that the apostles had back in Acts because we have the same power that they had—the same Spirit lives in us.
With God’s truth as my our foundation, we don’t have to rely on a great game to get us through the week. As my wife said to me just the other day, “You may have lost on the field, but the things that you are doing for the Kingdom matter so much more, and God is proud.” We never use our faith in God as a rabbit’s foot for good luck, rather, whether we win, lose, or draw, we remain the same because at the end of the day we all have the same goal, and that is to bring glory to God.
Trey Burton is a Tight End for the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s a regular contributor to The Increase.