Every year something happens to every person here on earth. We get a year older. The day of our birthday that we celebrate as a kid and try to forget as an adult. For me I just turned 31 years old, which is crazy to think. First off, I came to the realization that not much special happens when you turn 31. I remember last year how happy I was to turn 30 just due to the fact that in running in races, I no longer had to compete for placing with those 20 year old college runners. It was an amazing moment I have to tell you. This year though, turning 31 I chose to sit back and reflect on what has been my story over these 31 years and five lessons I have learned through it.
First off let me give you what my 31 year journey has looked like. I grew up in Hays, KS and lived there until I was 22 years old. Growing up I was really into sports and even though we attended church, I never really cared much about growing in my faith. I went through 18 years of my life going to church occasionally, attending many different youth groups for all the wrong reasons, and living completely for myself. I entered college defined by one word “Athlete.” That is all that mattered to me and it was all about myself. Through my Freshman year at FHSU my life started to unravel. Track wasn’t going the way I thought it would at FHSU, I was losing friends I had had for years, and I made a lot of decisions that I am not proud of. Through all of that, God planted a seed in me through a teammate on the Track team, Drew. Drew was the guy that was with me to help when stuff started to completely fall apart. He was the guy that got me to step back into church, invited me to a Bible Study when I lost a friend in an accident at the lake, and helped put a group of people around me that would change my life forever. That seed that was planted in 2006 would take some time to start growing, but it would when I chose to be baptized on March 30, 2008. That day is the day I still celebrate today because that is my new birthday and it means so much to me.
God continues to do big things through my life of 31 years. I was called into ministry and been doing that for 11 years in 3 communities (7 years in Dodge City). Through all of that God has taught me 5 lessons that I want to pass on to all of you.
1) Never Stop Learning
At FHSU one of the lessons that always stuck with me was never stop learning. We need to always continue learning more about ourselves. We need to continue to learn more and more about God everyday. That means we need to take the time to be in His word. Open the Bible and continue to grow. Learn from God, learn from books, learn from your experience, but most importantly-just continue to learn. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing.
2) Trust in God's plan for you
God’s plans for me have amazed me so many times. First off I never thought I would be in ministry, but God had a plan. I never thought as a kid with a speech impediment that I would speak in front of people every week, but God had a plan. I never thought I would be in Children’s Ministry, but God had a plan. I never thought I would live in a community I grew up competing against, but God had plan. God’s plans are greater than you can ever imagine, trust in what He has planned for you.
3) Stay Healthy…Not Just Physically
Yes I like to run and yes it is good for my physical health. But I have learned that we should strive to stay healthy not just physically, but also Spiritually. Take time reading your Bible. Spend time eating healthy. Take time doing life with other people in Life Group. Spend time working out. The thing is both physical and spiritual health are important, but in the end, your walk with God is way more important. Take the time.
4) You Are Never Alone
My life hasn’t gone exactly how I thought it would over 31 years. Growing up I don’t think I would have said my dream for my future would be being single and living away from any family at age 31. The thing I have learned through is that I am not alone. First off God is always with me no matter what this world may through out me. Second no matter where God puts me, He will also place important people to go through life with. I am thankful to know how true that is today and thankful for each of those people who are part of my life.
5) Never Stop Telling Your Story
The last lesson is to never stop telling your story. God has plans for you and your story is a big part of that. Tell your story to show people how God worked in your life. Everyone's story is different, but each is powerful in its own way. Never stop sharing it with people. You never know who your story may touch.
31 years have passed since I was born and I am ready to take on whatever life has for the future. Are you?