Saying “It’s God’s plan” is easy when everything is going right and is synced up with your goals and timeline. But on a day like today, when NFL Teams have to trim their roster down to 53 men, guys will see their dreams come to an end, or at least deterred, and God’s Plan will be the furthest thing from their mind. However, I would encourage these men, and anyone who finds themselves in a place of discomfort and uncertainty, to seek the Kingdom.
Throughout my life, whether I acknowledge it or not, God has been directing me by placing opportunities, people and obstacles on my path. I’ve found it to be more beneficial when God has thrown adversity into my life because His objective is to teach and strengthen, and not destroy. And I will be the first to admit, the process isn’t easy, but when I’ve submitted my immediate comfort and focused on what God was trying to reveal, I gain more after the storm passes.
This idea has been true for me on numerous occasions. Being undrafted ignited an inner fire fueling my last 11 NFL seasons. Being cut from one team led me to sign and play for the Redskins for seven years, where I not only became a Pro Bowler and leader in the community, but also fell in love with God and my wife. Or, most recently, when sustaining a significant injury after signing the biggest deal of my career led to conceiving my youngest son during the additional free time. In each situation, God ripped up my plans and produced greatness. But as if He hadn’t already given me an awesome testimony, how He used me this past year blew my mind.
This time last year, I had just been released from the Arizona Cardinals and was unsure if I was going to continue to play or not. I had been in the same position in the past, but this time, instead of leaning on my own merit, I immediately prayed to the Lord for clarity and asked Him to place me where He needed me. Within a day or so, I had an offer from Oakland. I wish I could say I was jumping for joy, but disappointment filled my heart. Yes I grew up in Oakland, but I was raised a 49ers fan. Plus, not only was I was concerned about being bombarded by family and friends each week for tickets, but after playing on a playoff team that was a Super Bowl contender, I was not eager to join a team that had finished 3-13 the previous year. In fact, I actually held off from signing with the Raiders for as long as possible before making my decision. But I wasn’t discouraged. This only confirmed that God was ready to move again, and my dissatisfaction was rooted in my ignorance of His plan.
Growing up I was an only child but had a older cousin who I was extremely close to and was more like a brother than a cousin. We did everything together and he always looked out for me. At some point along the way, our paths separated and our lives went in completely opposite directions. My cousin turned to the streets while I was able to stay focused on school and ball, thanks to my support system. And to be honest, my cousin played a huge part in that as well. He refused to allow me to run with him and his friends, and even threatened to beat me up if he caught me in the streets. Eventually my cousin found himself serving a 10 year prison sentence, and as a result, we lost contact with one another. When I signed with the Raiders I had no clue he would be released within two months of my return. It was such a blessing to be able to be there for my cousin as he was there for me when we were kids. I immediately understood why God moved me from Arizona back to Oakland. I finally understood that football is only my platform and not my purpose. Football is only a resource God has blessed me with so that I can positively impact people’s lives.
Therefore, I want to encourage all my brothers today who did not receive the news they were anticipating to not dwell in the fear of the unknown and failure because God has something better in store for you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. Oftentimes we think too small and do not realize the power residing within us. But I promise you, as long as you’re focusing on God, He will use you for great things!