“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7
When I got to Arkansas State, they had never outright won a championship. Along with the rest of my freshman class, I was naive. We thought, “We’re going to win the championship every year. We’re going to lead this thing and be four-time champions!”
We played the first year, and didn’t win a championship. We played the second year, and didn’t win a championship. I started to look around and realized, we are a pretty mediocre team! A good year for us is 6-6! This is a problem.
After coming to Christ at the start of my junior year, I started to strive really hard; I thought this is our year. A lot of things happened my junior year. For example, I did evangelism training the summer before and my coaches did not like that. I left the rest of the guys to do their summer training on campus while I was focusing on my relationship with God. I was trying to treat the locker room as a mission field.
I came back and was mentally, spiritually and physically stronger, and even a better football player than when I left. But my coaches didn’t want to see that. Though I was one of two all-conference players on the team, they chose to put me third-string on the depth chart. I led my team in tackles the year before, I led the defense, and I was all-conference — and here I was third-string. We played against Cam Newton and Auburn in his first college game, and I watched the whole thing from the sideline. The next game, I again watched from the sideline.
This was supposed to be our year and I wasn’t even playing.
While that was hard for me to take, something was different this year. It was my mindset of, “OK God, I’m not even thinking about my glory, I’m thinking about Your glory. In the midst of this trial, I’m going to use it as a testimony.”
My teammates would look at me and think, “This guy is not even playing on the field but he’s coming with a positive energy and engaging in relationships. What is wrong with him?” Yet slowly but surely they were coming to Bible studies. I remember going to the top of our team’s stadium and really laying out my heart to God and trusting Him, saying, “God, this situation is tough. It’s hard. I don’t know what’s happening with my life right now. I’m not playing, I just broke up with my girlfriend because we were in an impure relationship, and I’m doing all these things to be faithful to You, but it feels like my life is in shambles.” I prayed over our team as well: “God I want this to be Your team. What would it look like if this was Your team?”
We finished out the season — another 6-6 year — but somebody called me one day and asked if I had read the newspaper. I said no, so he told me to go get one. On the front page it read, “Demario Davis makes first team all-conference from a backup position.” I don’t think that’s ever been done! Two days later, the whole coaching staff was fired and the offensive coordinator, who was a Christ-follower, became the head coach. He called me into his office and said, “You’re going to be the leader of the defense.”
At that point in my life, I knew — when God says He’s got it, you just take the backseat. No matter what type of trial or anxiety-producing situation I might be in, if God says, “Just trust my plan,” it’s going to be OK. I’ve seen Him take an impossible situation and turn it around for His glory, while at the same time, take our enemies and make them our footstool. God is the only one who can do that.
Prayer is the medicine for stress because in that season, I really had nothing to rely on but prayer. And prayer is what prevailed.
— Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints linebacker
Demario Davis is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Demario’s Increase profile: http://theincrease.com/author/demario-davis/
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