THE INCREASE: Sam Acho - Carving Out Time

For me, it’s all or nothing. I’m so prone to workout hard — run, lift, go through the routine and push myself as hard as I can. There’s no halfway. But I’ve learned that I also need rest. For me, rest doesn’t just mean sitting on the couch with my feet up watching television, it means being intentional with my time.

Recently, I got back from an intense week of serving people in need in Nigeria. For me, this was a good break. It was life-giving. I wasn’t wasting time or focusing on work, I was doing Kingdom business while resting my body. I was allowing God to do with my life what He wants to do. He is the one who heals and this is one way He was healing me physically, spiritually and mentally.

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” — Isaiah 58:8

During the season, rest can be hard. In the Bible, God talks about the importance of the Sabbath — a day of rest. This doesn’t have to be a Saturday or a Sunday, it’s just a time for you to be able to refresh. One year, while I was playing for Arizona, our day off was Tuesday, so on Tuesdays I didn’t leave the house. I used that day to rest. Other years, I found a different routine. Often times for me, that means spending time with people I love, not thinking about work or stressing about things ahead. It means hanging out with my wife and kids and being refueled for the week ahead.

Rest looks different for everyone. But the first thing we need to do to be refueled is to get with God. So often we become busy and distracted with everyday things that we overlook what’s most life-giving. We don’t give God enough time and space to meet with us. We don’t give the Spirit of God enough time to speak to us, reminding us who He is and how He can comfort us. Instead, we find ourselves going, going, going. We’re on social media, texting, calling, watching, talking. We neglect the Spirit of God, ignoring what He has to say to us.

Lately I’ve been getting up extra early to find a quiet place, where I have no agenda and no distractions, so I can spend time with God, praying and reading His Word. As a dad, I know the importance of spending time with my kids, but as a child of God, I know He wants the same from us. I want to do a better job of making sure I allow the Spirit of God to work in and through me.

During the season this can also be hard. You get into a routine of waking up, eating, practicing, watching film, going home to eat, watch more film and sleep. Throw in some family time, massages and other things that come up and your day is packed! I have to be intentional about carving out time to spend with God.

For me, that means I get up just a little early so I can eat early, get to the facility early and have a time, even if it’s short, with no distractions so I can pray and/or read God’s Word. Just a little bit of time with the Lord goes a long way. He doesn’t require of us hours and hours, but he wants the best of our time. Even if it’s inconvenient or requires extra effort to do, it’s worth it.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” — Isaiah 55:6

Spending time alone with God not only strengthens my relationship with Him, it strengthens all my relationships. It reminds me that I’m not the one in control. It shows me how little my problems really are and how big my God is. Often I get caught up in the things of the game — stats, playing time, numbers, other people’s opinions — and I forget that God’s already gone before me in every situation I face.

He knows what I’m facing, He’s been through it and He’s not intimidated. In fact, He’s using it for my good.

— Sam Acho, Chicago Bears linebacker

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 for more stories and videos.