Thursday, March 31, 2016

#10 - Partnering with Athletes in Action (The Year of 52)

Athletes are unique. Sometimes a bit strange. Keeping odd hours, eating copious amounts of food and never gaining weight, competitive, intense, athletes live a different life.

During my first year at the University of Cincinnati I met Mark Householder, campus staff with Athletes in Action (AIA). Some relationships become part of a road for a time while others become part of the heart, a piece of life no matter what the road. Usually we never know until later.

Mark spent time with me those first two years, one on one, in group settings and especially on a trip out to Fort Collins, CO for an AIA summer camp. A long drive with four of us provided great learning and relationships.

I didn't do much with AIA for more than 25 years, after retiring from swimming and heading into local church ministry with Salem Church. We crossed paths here and there, in some of the same circles around Southwest Ohio, but nothing formal.

In 2007 I reinitiated some contact because of my desire to connect ministry to my opportunity with officiating. Our fun, I believe, is never just for us. Everything we do is always about Him, whether it's building relationships, smiling at strangers, praying for the people around us - there is always an opportunity to serve a greater purpose, all while enjoying what we're doing.

I have a motto for approaching God's will: "Pay Attention." It's not very scientific, not deeply theological, but it works. I try to pay attention to the experiences, the teachings, the relationships that come into my life. My second stage is this: "Don't make more of them than there is and don't make less of them than there is."

I don't want to miss God's next step for me. AIA is one of those "next steps," not for going on staff, but for partnering to learn and impact the Kingdom through sports. Sports is just a hobby for me. Every hobby can be a ministry. God doesn't want us to find something we don't like to do for ministry. I believe He wants to use who we are - a combination of calling and experiences.

I think serving Jesus is a joyful thing - ok, not everything He calls us to do is enjoyable but it brings joy if it's not automatically joyful. Sometimes we just have to CHOOSE joy. Other times we get to live in joy.

This is what came of a relationship with Mark and AIA. Who knew? What about you? Are you paying attention? God is at work, sometimes for the moment; other times, for a lifetime.

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