I grew up in Christian home and went to church every Sunday. I think I had a relationship with Jesus when I was younger, but I didn’t really understand what that looked like in the day-to-day. I moved away from home at 16 years old to play hockey and at that time, when I was away from the protection, rules and values of my parents, I started to look more and more like the world. You could say I was living a double life — when around my parents and at church on Sunday I fit in and knew how to be a Christian, but the rest of the week Jesus wasn’t a part of my life.
During this journey of playing junior hockey, my team got in trouble and I remember my coach challenging us to go to church. He figured we needed it. I took that challenge. At that point I was no longer going to church for my parents, but I was going to check it out for myself. Over the course of a few weeks, whatever the pastor was sharing that Sunday, it didn’t even matter what it was, the Holy Spirit was convicting me of the life I was living and the sin in my life. I was trying to hide, but I was finding conviction every time I went, and I kept going back.
That led to me going to church and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Bible study on campus during my freshman year in college at Bowling Green State University. The combination of having Godly friends in my life and learning who Jesus is — that was just what I needed.
I remember a moment meeting with our campus church pastor over coffee at the student union and, as a man, it’s hard to show weakness, but I started confessing my sin to him and the things in my past I felt so ashamed of. I expected him to be upset or surprised, but he wasn’t. He shared Jesus and the story of the Gospel with me, and though I had heard it many times, I finally understood the hope and new life Jesus offered me. I wanted that and I believed that. From that day on, I was all in for Him. Of course there’s been ups and downs, but God gave me a new life to walk with Him.
Being married and now having a kid, I realize just how selfish I really am. In light of that, I realize just how good God is to me and how faithful He is to me, no matter what. In Philippians 1:6, it says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” That just reminds me that God not only saves me but He’s going to keep changing me into His image every day. He’s not going to give up on me.
So those days when I feel like I’ve completely blown it — whether that be as a dad, as a husband, or in hockey, whatever it may be — I know that God’s grace is enough. He’s going to keep changing me and He’s not letting go of me.
— Ryan Carpenter, Vegas Golden Knights forward
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