Forced Into Retirement - Chris Maragos

Unfortunately, I’m no longer able to play in the NFL. Normal retirement usually means a player is stepping away from the game because they want to at that time; I was forced out due to injuries. I want to play more, but I can’t. 

I’ve been playing football since I was 7 years old. I’ve been training at a high capacity, pushing myself to reach the next level of football, since I was in high school. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been playing sports, pouring myself into physical performance and competition. To hear the doctors say that I’m done — that due to my knee injuries I’ll never be able to compete in that way again — is really hard. I don’t know anything else!

It’s a little surreal to be honest. When the doctors told me in December that my knee was no longer conducive to play in the NFL, I sat there stunned. My whole life I’ve been able to do anything I want to physically, and now I can’t. 

Am I going to walk with a limp for the rest of my life? Will I ever be able to take another step without pain? For me, these questions that run through my mind are scary, but I’m able to grasp the message of 1 Timothy 4:8 a whole lot more.

“Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 

I’ve invested in my career physically and put my whole life’s work into a game that can end at a moment’s notice (which I’m aware of now more than ever). Yet what I’ve been able to invest in myself and others spiritually is not only for the present life, but for all of eternity! This can never be taken away from you. 

I might end up limping for the rest of my time here on earth, but I won’t be in Heaven. I’m going to run into Heaven. Things are going to break down and fade away here, but in Heaven, they won’t. That is what I’m putting my hope and confidence in. 

I don’t know what the future is going to hold for me and that is a bit scary. I don’t know what the next five, 10 or 15 years are going to look like; I don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. But I have experienced a whole new level to the truth that I can do nothing apart from God. In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh, one that keeps him humble and reliant on God at all times. Perhaps every step I take, for the rest of my life, I’ll have pain as a reminder of my humanity and that I can’t take a single step apart from Him. 

If I keep myself humble and vulnerable before God, I know He has the power to lift me up in ways I cannot imagine or understand. At the end of the day, our lives (whether easy or hard) are meant to glorify Him.

— Chris Maragos, former NFL safety

Chris Maragos is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Chris’ Increase profile here: http://theincrease.com/author/chris-maragos/  

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