Being in Japan for the Rugby World Cup was a unique time — a pinnacle of my rugby career, in a way. While away from the busy day-to-day lifestyle that we live here in America, I found Japan to be a very peaceful and well-organized space where I was able to find a quiet place to be before God. The World Cup gave me the chance to be on a missions trip I’ve never gone on before — at least that’s how I see it. I was being tested in my faith and my game, but I was also able to grow closer to God in a peaceful, quiet sort of way.
Coming back to America, I realized how shockingly chaotic and diverse our country, and especially Southern California, is. Don’t get me wrong, I love it; I grew up with it. But it was a shock after being away from the States for three and a half weeks.
While I was away, I experienced God guiding me through some really difficult times. I was called to go with the team, and I got playing time, but I also sat in the stands for two of the games. The competitive struggle within me was causing me to ask, “How am I going to make this trip enjoyable instead of being all sour apples over things not going my way?” God brought me through choppy waters and taught me how to keep my heart at peace by keeping my faith. I had to keep the liar out of my head and focus on the truth of the Gospel. That alone pulled me through. If I had let pride lead my heart and my head, I would have had a very different experience in Japan. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
I had to make a choice: Was I going to be bitter or better because of this trip? Was I going to speak life or death to myself and my teammates? Was I going to be led by pride or humility? The more I answered these questions by the Spirit’s leading, choosing to serve the Lord instead of myself, the more God moved in my heart and filled me. And because I allowed the Lord to grow me and lead me, I was able to use the opportunities I had on the field and play really well. I was tuned into God’s coaching. Having God on my heart allowed me to serve the team the way I was meant to.
God wants us to serve everyone else — a much bigger purpose — before serving ourselves. Being tested in such a high-stakes environment and choosing to continually serve the Lord can be a challenge, and by no means was I perfect in this process, but being exposed to such a test made me stronger.
I remember a particular day when I learned I was not selected for the upcoming game, I was angry. I took it out on one of my teammates while we were training. For whatever reason, I did not choose to rise above it. But because of this moment, of which I am not proud, I realized that God made me to be an emotional and competitive person. I had to accept the way He made me and accept the fact that I was experiencing extreme frustration and anger, but I let it get the best of me. In order to use these traits for His glory — in order to be the teammate He calls me to be — I have to use these things as strengths, not weaknesses.
I try so hard to be like Jesus and do things the way God wants me to, but the reality is that we all have moments of falling short of the glory of God. I was able to recognize my shortcomings on this day and flip it around to learn from them. I’m grateful God made me the way He has, but I want to use it to serve Him.
Joshua 24:15 says, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This is a decision we each make every day. Each day, I want to serve the Lord no matter what the circumstances may be.
— 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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