The most challenging thing about my career in the NFL right now is the distance between me and my wife. It’s no secret that I love my wife so much, and I want her to be able to accomplish her dream and what God calls her to do. At this time, God has brought her to play in the NWSL and the World Cup, and that’s exactly where the Lord wants her to be right now.
In the same way, the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to play in the NFL. So here I am in Santa Clara, Calif., growing closer to the Lord, learning how to be a better man, husband and father. Meanwhile, Cheyna is competing in Jamaica and Washington D.C., drawing closer to God and discovering how to serve Him as a wife, mom and professional soccer player.
So we’re constantly relying on God in this season, not asking how our spouse can fill us up or how we can be served, but how each of us can serve God best where He has us. Who else is He calling us to pour into? We’re relying too much on God to fall victim to the idea that our spouse is the one we need most in life. The distance between us is not easy; I love my wife to death. I would take the lowest contract imaginable if it meant we would be able to be in the same city, but that’s not an option at this time.
Recently, I went to Abundant Life Church here in California, where Bryan Loritts is the pastor. He was talking about being on assignment from the Lord.
“If God’s brought you to the Bay Area, where only 3 percent of the people follow Christ, you’re not just here to make money or have a good time,” he began.
Wow … it was as if he was speaking directly to me.
“If you want to have fun and coast through life, you could have stayed in Nashville.”
I have a house in Nashville! I had no doubt that God was speaking to me — challenging me — through Bryan’s message that day. God is not calling me here for a contract, but to pour into others. My first week with the team, one of my teammates came up to me and asked when I was starting Bible study.
Then another one came up to me and said, “Hey J-Matt, when are you going to start a Bible study?”
That couldn’t have been by accident. I’m on assignment, I’m here to pour into these guys and love on them. I want to be a light in this locker room. But the only way I can do this effectively is to be constantly filling myself with Christ. My outpouring is a direct result of what I take in. If I’m going to be pushing others toward Christ, I have to seriously step up my time alone with Him. And I’m excited to see what the Spirit will do as we dive into a book of the Bible together.
A couple of my fraternity friends and I were recently reading through 1 Timothy together. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul says, “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscious and a sincere faith.” This is our aim.
Yes, in California it appears like everyone is happy all the time. But the joy the world gives is vastly different from the joy that we gain from the Lord. So what does it mean to live in Santa Clara and play in the NFL while having a good conscious? It means I’m not hiding stuff; I’m watching my life to make sure it points toward Christ at all times. If I’m not living the life I’m pointing others to, how effective will my message be? If I’m reading the Word with my teammates one hour in a day and then living my own life the other 23, what does that say? I have to be intentional.
This is a spiritual warfare; I’m on the battlefield. Daily I need to arm myself with the armor of God, filling myself up with His truth. Only then will others see that Jordan is different. I’m not going to get caught up in starting or not. I won’t be upset in the training room if I get injured. I want to talk to younger players who are vying for my position, helping them become the best player they can be. Why? Because I want to set myself apart as different, representing Christ any chance I get.
— Jordan Matthews, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver
Jordan Matthews is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Jordan’s Increase profile: https://theincrease.com/author/jordan-matthews/
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