“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your Book before one of them came to be.” — Psalm 139:13,15-16
I grew up playing soccer with my brothers; it was our family’s game. Being the third out of four brothers, I had to learn to play at a level where I could keep up with my two older brothers or else I would have to sit on the sidelines and just watch. Adjusting to playing at a level 3-4 years higher than I was, I grew quickly in my skills and love for the sport.
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Faith in anything just wasn’t a priority for us. When my parents had a pretty gnarly divorce, it led us even further away from the Church. But when I was in high school, my older brother — the same one who instilled in me a love for soccer — became a Christian and gave me my first Bible. It stayed on my shelf for a couple years until the Lord prompted me to pick it up. During my junior year, I slowly began to read through God’s Word. As I did, I became convinced of its truth; I became convinced that Jesus is God.
The Lord was very gentle and patient with me as I sought to know and understand His truths. At that time, I didn’t have a lot of people around me I could look up to in regards to the Christian faith, so I had to figure it out on my own. But the Lord pursued me, and I pursued Him. And He did not only pursue me; over the years, the Lord saved of all four of us brothers as well as my mom.
Still today, I feel closest to the Lord when I’m reading His Word. Opening up Scripture is my go-to, much more than watching sermons, listening to music or even praying. Because the Lord first met me through His Word, I love connecting with Him daily by reading His truths and discovering more about His character.
While I eagerly seek wisdom and teaching through His written Word, I admit I struggle with prayer. It’s something I’m continually working on. I see how crucial it is throughout Scripture and yet I wrestle so deeply with it. However, the Lord is gracious to me as I learn how to implement more time and effort seeking Him through prayer. One of the greatest ways for me to learn how to pray is to dedicate my car time as time to spend talking with God. I focus the time it takes me to drive to and from the stadium as conversational time with my Father.
The Lord continues to pursue me. Recently He has been teaching me how to be completely content with Him. If everything was to be taken from me, if I was in the same situation as Job in the Bible, would I be equally glorifying to the Lord? Would I be equally as joyful? Would I love Jesus the same or even more if all these things were taken? The Lord has been refining me in this way. I have to ask myself, do I get caught up in the things of this world? Do I get too caught up with what I have, the job I’m in, or how healthy my kids are? Do I get too focused on these things or am I truly satisfied in the Lord? He’s been so faithful to make me realize that He is the first priority in my life — the One my ultimate joy rests in.
— Ryan Hollingshead, midfielder/defender for FC Dallas
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.