The most powerful thing that ever happened in my college soccer career came out of a knee injury. In the last exhibition game before the regular season began I partially tore my MCL. It wasn’t a full tear, but one that took me out of my entire senior season nonetheless.
This idea of an injury turning into a powerful, life changing thing is a pretty common theme in the lives of Christian athletes who receive a season-ending or career-ending injury. Stories of athletes losing their ability to play the game and being forced to turn their hearts and eyes on the Lord is not a new or revolutionary concept. Regardless, the way the Lord has shaped my own eyes and heart during the last few weeks has been a revolutionary concept.
God is so cool. The morning I sprained my MCL, this was my exact prayer in my journal: “Lord help me to set my gaze on what is above. My GPA, my soccer career, my future job… none of those things are eternal… Help me to truly dwell on what is eternal.”
I had just been reading from Psalm 49:16 which discusses a rich man’s earthly belongings. The passage said “He will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.” In other words, when this guy dies- his wealth becomes useless to him. Everything he has obtained and everything he has done in this life- is completely worthless.
This passage is specifically talking about a man and his money, but it translates to our own lives in a way that goes far beyond material things. In fact, this passage has nothing to do with our physical possessions. I think it has everything to do with our circumstances– things we go through and things that happen.
Moments are temporary- it’s how you respond in those moments that reflect the eternal. Hurting my knee is temporary- it’s how I respond in this moment that will reflect the eternal, inherent goodness of the Lord and His faithfulness.
Good grades, job promotions, the game of soccer, and even people are temporary. You’re going to get a bad grade, you will lose a job, you’ll get injured on the game field, and people you love will leave. But these things, no matter how significant, are your temporary circumstances. It’s how you respond to these moments that are eternal circumstances. God will use you in these moments in a really cool way if you allow Him to. Remember that when you can stand in faith during a circumstance where everyone would understand if you gave up- that is a beautiful display of the gospel. And that, friends, is eternal.
Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 4:18, “We don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
“…but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
It’s a simple concept. But a profound one. A concept that’s easy to understand but hard to grasp… The only things that matters on this side of Heaven are the things that have eternal value.
Eternal value. What has eternal value? Sharing the gospel, representing Christ, choosing selflessness over selfishness to name a few. Anytime a person sees Christ in you- that is value that has an eternal impact. These things, Paul tells us, last an eternity.
If I could fully grasp this concept for what it is truly worth, my entire perspective on what the game is would be totally transformed. If I grasped this concept of seeking an eternal perspective in my injury, all of a sudden being injured is okay. All of a sudden playing time becomes unimportant. All of a sudden winning is irrelevant.
In the same way if we, as individuals, could fully grasp this concept for what it is worth, our entire perspective on every single aspect of life would be transformed in a radical way. When our perspective turns away from selfish desire and turns into a perspective driven with eternity in mind, we no longer live with fear or worry. We don’t have to worry about our future- we don’t have to question our job status or whether or not we’re getting into grad school, we don’t even have to be worried about our parents who have cancer.
We are free of this worry because with this eternal perspective, we know the Lord’s plan is sovereign. God’s plan for your life was laid out long before time began. His plan is intrinsically designed for a purpose so much greater than anything you could make plans for.
So take to heart this idea of having eternal perspective. When something happens that doesn’t coincide with the plans you had for your day- think about eternity and remember that everything that happens in this life is temporary. Take the temporary-bad and turn it into eternal-good. You will be blown away by how God uses you in these moments.
This truly comes from my heart- I have experienced first hand the absolute and purest of joys that comes from having an eternal perspective. And I want so badly for all of you to experience the same joy and peace that God faithfully promises to those who seek it.
“16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
-2nd Corinthians 4:16-18