So far, my rugby career has not turned out the way I would have planned or expected, nor in the timing I would have chosen. But God’s continually pushing me toward His divine plan.
I first learned the game of rugby at the age of 11 from my dad and his rugby teammates. Having played a number of sports throughout high school and college, rugby is what ended up sticking with me. Always being super competitive, I had big plans for myself. I worked really hard at my sport and my education so I could one day play professionally and represent my country internationally.
Professional rugby in America has only been in place for about two years now. And though I had the desire to play overseas, I wasn’t receiving any invitations from teams, so I moved out to New York and began playing with a club team. I eventually worked my way to signing a full-time contract with the U.S. national rugby sevens team in 2015. And by 2018, I signed a contract with the San Diego Legion in Major League Rugby.
But that year, I experienced one of the hardest times in my career. Undergoing two knee surgeries, I missed out on the USA camp and many games. Though these were difficult to miss, this time brought me closer in my relationship with God. As I look back over my career, I realize that it was always in the challenging moments — preparing for the Olympics, heading into a tough game, or battling an injury — when I felt myself leaning on God more. When I had to get knee surgery, I decided to take a bigger step in my faith; I chose to trust God and let my faith in Him go to work.
I always liked going to church, but often I let other things get in the way of my attendance. When I was out with the injury, I decided I wasn’t going to put it off anymore. Now, nothing gets in my way of spending time in God’s house. I have also started a Bible study with my teammates and a weekly WhatsApp call with a few friends, where we read the Word, pray for each other and pray for others together. I make it a habit to listen to worship music when I’m driving to and from work or the gym each day. This changes where my head goes and keeps me focused on God.
Changing my habits to make God first and focus my eyes on Him has transformed my faith and helped me to trust in His timing and His plan. Now that my heart is in a good place, I also play rugby better, treat my teammates better and find a greater purpose for my life. I want to be remembered as a man of God — someone who is full of love and kindness and a good example of Jesus. I want people to ask, “Why is he like that?” and then realize it’s because he follows God.
— Nate Augspurger, USA Rugby and San Diego Legion player
Nate Augspurger is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Nate’s Increase profile: https://theincrease.com/author/nate-augspurger/
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