Cool Thoughts

I always find it interesting to hear what other people think about God and what God has done in their lives for them. This page is where I would like to share some of my own thoughts. First, I'd like to give you a personal story about something God has taught me in my life; after that, I have some random thoughts for you. I hope you find encouragement from something on this page.

A Story

Do you feel as though the only lasting legacy you can leave in this life is through the pursuit of success, accolades, or recognition? Do you struggle with a deep need to feel significant in this world? If so, you are not alone--I've been there, too. This is a story about one of my biggest disappointments and apparent failures in life. It is a story about how God has been teaching me what it means to achieve true significance.

I have always enjoyed playing sports. From the time I was very young, I have been involved in some type of sport. I did well in some sports and not as well in others, but I always enjoyed the competition and the fun of it. When I was ten years old, I got involved with wrestling. It happened when my grandmother signed me up for a sports camp at a local high school. We played all kinds of sports, but one day we learned some wrestling. They basically showed us a few moves and then let us go at each other. I ended up being "Camp Champ," and I even beat another kid who already knew some wrestling. I then joined a wrestling club for kids, and it just went from there.

By my senior year in high school, I had placed 5th in the state championships twice and was ranked #1 in the state. I had been the top wrestler in my weight class all season, and I knew that I was very close to my dream of becoming a high school wrestling state champion. I was so close that I could taste it. I had worked very hard and felt that God intended for me to have success. When the state tournament came around my senior year, I knew the championship would be between myself and the #2 ranked guy in the state. He was also a senior, and I had beaten him both times we had wrestled during the season. I just knew that God would not let me lose this match. I had worked too hard, gone to too many wrestling camps, done too many early morning runs, and prayed too hard for success. I felt as though no other outcome besides a state championship was possible.

Finally, the match came. The #2 guy and I had both advanced in the state tournament, and we were facing each other head to head. I was winning the match by one point at the very end of the match when my opponent went for a takedown (worth two points). As time ran out in the match, the referee had not awarded the takedown, and I knew that I had won! But then, after the match had ended, I saw the two referees talking.... Suddenly one of them raised two fingers and said that the takedown was awarded. I had lost. As I left the wrestling mat, I could not believe that God would allow my dream to fall short. I felt that God had "let me down" after the many times I had prayed to him about this.

In time, however, I came to realize that God is not a genie that grants my wishes, and there are many things in life that are vastly more important and longer lasting than a wrestling match (although, at the time it happened, I could not be convinced of that). There are many people who go through devastating life events, such as the death of somebody close to them, serious physical injury, or other major catastrophes. Losing a wrestling match--even an important one--is really quite minor. However silly my feelings of disappointment in God may seem, many of us blame God for any major disappointment in life.

God never said that life would be easy. In fact, for the Christian, God specifically says that life will be difficult. There will be many people who will put you down and persecute you for your faith in God, but you have to be tough and fight through it because the prize to be won for enduring the hard times and remaining faithful to God is greater than any of us could possibly imagine.

After I lost that match, I seriously considered quitting wrestling and giving up. Fortunately, however, I stuck it out and decided to go on and wrestle in college. In the end, I accomplished far more than I ever thought possible when I was in high school--and I don't just mean in terms of wrestling success. The loss I experienced that day provided me with perspective. When I now think back on the pain of losing that match, it seems quite insignificant and unimportant compared to the blessings that I have received as a result.  Although that match meant everything to me at the time, God, in His perfect wisdom, knew all along exactly what he was doing (imagine that). Wrestling has taught me to work hard and endure hard times to reach my goals, it has helped me to deal with failures and setbacks, it has motivated me, it has allowed God to open up many doors in my life, and it has taught me an invaluable lesson in trusting God. I strongly believe that the main reason God gave me wrestling was to teach me these vital lessons. I had to learn that life is not all about the successes and awards that I can try to accumulate for myself. God has taught me humility. He has shown me that I need to have confidence in God's wisdom--especially in trials and disappointments.  No wrestling victory or championship could ever come close to the joy I receive in growing in my knowledge of God and his will for my life. Wrestling is something I took pride in and enjoyed doing, but the lessons that I have learned from it are far more valuable.

I just want you to know that God wants you to be one of his children. God hears your prayers and answers them in his time and in his way--not yours. You may think that God has "let you down," and you may have no idea how the events taking place in our life could possibly be in God's will; howe ver, I encourage you to trust God that his plan for your life is for the best. Continue to seek his will and have confidence that he will guide you. Good times are nice, but it is in the tough times that our faith is really tested; that is when we really gain perspective on how dependent we are on God for everything. Just read 1 Peter if you doubt this. There is a real benefit to being "refined by fire," and I have seen this personally time and time again in my life. And never forget: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8). Be careful not to indict God or doubt his goodness and power.

Please also take comfort in this fact: You are incredibly valuable and significant because you are made in the very image of God (Genesis 1:21)! More than that, God sacrificed his only Son--God in the flesh--and willingly suffered and died for YOU in order that you might turn your life over to him and receive the Spirit of the one true God to live inside of you (John 3:16). So I urge you to find the joy in knowing the God of our universe and finding your significance in him and him alone--not in worldly accomplishments. I know that you will be blessed if you do.

Some Thoughts