ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 9/12/2017
As of today I am officially 26 years of age. How weird is that? I’m like a super adult now… or whatever. I don’t know. I feel old though! Like for real, being 26 is really, really weird. So let’s not think about that right now. Let’s take this time to dissect what year 25 was like for me.
If you are a friend of mine, or someone who has simply followed me from afar via social media, you have probably noticed that the past year has been very eventful for me. I mean, I would hope that’s the impression you got because it sure feels like it was eventful haha! I got a job with the Kansas City Royals. I lived in 3 different states. I went on a ton of hiking/backpacking adventures. Oh, and I vastly improved my Spanish speaking skills.
With so many things happening in year 25 I wanted to sit down and write about my experiences and what I’ve learned. After some thinking I came up with 3 realizations that stuck with me the most, so I’d like to share those with you. Maybe you can relate to them, maybe not, but regardless I hope you enjoy reading about my perspective on this last year.
Life With Christ Is An Adventure
“Life is not a problem to be solved, it’s an adventure to be lived,” John Eldredge, Wild at Heart; one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors. In year 25 I learned what it meant to seek adventure. I somewhat mean this literally, referring to when I went camping in the desert landscaped White Tank Mountains, backpacking through Sedona, kayaking down the Salt River, summiting the tallest mountains in both Arizona and Southern California, surfing in the Pacific Ocean, hiking through the Appalachian Mountains, and mountain biking through the hills of Alabama.
This past year has exposed me to a plethora of outdoor adventures that I’ve never experienced, and they were all adventures I will never forget. However, when I say I learned how to seek adventure I’m also referring to my life as a Christ Follower.
Adventures are exciting, full of newness, and sometimes littered with danger. Such is the life as a follower of Jesus. I’ve thought a lot about what it must have been like to be one of Jesus’ 12 initial disciples. Can you image having some random guy come in and take you from town to town while he performs numerous miracles, speaks to large crowds, and essentially allows you to witness the radical uprising of Christianity? Exciting, new, and dangerous are perfect adjectives to describe Jesus during his time of ministry on earth. They are also perfect adjectives to describe this last year for me (I encountered a bear whilst backpacking in Sedona. That’s dangerous ok. It freaked the heck out of me).
2. Christ Will Bless Your Life Even When You’re Not Obedient To Him
This past year was full of personal pride, selfishness, disobedience, and sin. Kind of a harsh way to start off this section, but I just have to be honest. Now, let me be clear, I also experienced more growth and maturation in my faith than ever before, but I would be doing you, the reader, a disservice if I completely ignored the fact that I still sinned a lot. Despite my sinfulness Christ still blessed me abundantly.
Getting the job with the Royals was a huge blessing for me. Being in professional baseball had always been a goal of mine, and to get hired by the team I grew up rooting for made the blessing even more amazing. When I publicly announced that I had accepted the job with Kansas City I was overwhelmed with the amount of support and congratulations I received. However, my perspective on this blessing soon changed. You see, getting a master’s degree and a job in professional baseball are great accomplishments, great blessings. But I learned that there are a ton of nonbelievers who also have their master’s degrees and are working in professional baseball. Shoot, there are a ridiculous amount of strength and conditioning coaches who don’t know Jesus that have achieved more success in their careers than I ever will. It’s pretty simple; a successful career and a successful life as a Christ Follower are not inherently analogous.
This revelation brought me to my next contemplation, what defines a blessing? First of all, I do believe that this job with the Royals consists as a blessing because I truly believe that God is using me at that job to advance his Kingdom, but at the same time, I could’ve also just gotten this job through shear hard work and determination. I mean, that’s how all the nonbelievers in professional baseball did it. That theory is sparked from the reality that the first 21 years of my life (before I was a Christian) I experienced a lot of that similar wordly success, but through my own hard work and determination. For 21 years I was not working to glorify the Lord, only working to glorify myself and my own personal success. So that’s where I got stuck.
How can I call this job a huge blessing if a ton of nonbelievers are in the same position I’m in? Is God also blessing them in the exact same manner and they are just completely blind to that truth? Is it a huge blessing just because it’s something I really wanted that actually came to fruition? Is Austin really going to write a whole paragraph that’s constituted exclusively with questions of introspection? Really, why is he still doing this?
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is indeed a huge difference between me and the nonbeliever who has been “blessed” with the same thing I have. The difference is I’m blessed with living a life for Christ, and not myself. I’m blessed with the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me. I’m blessed with JESUS. And he is the only blessing that I truly need in this life, all the rest is just plain eyewash*
3. Christ Will Prepare You For What’s Next, Even If You Don’t Know What That Is
As I mentioned above, it’s very easy for me to fall into the trap of self-glorification. I routinely have to check myself before I wreck myself and fill my head with reminders that I truly could not do all the things I’m doing without the Lord’s provision and guidance. One reason why I am often humbled into escaping this trap is the reality that my life is full of unknowns. I have to say some of it is my fault. I mean, I voluntarily chose a profession where the industry is saturated and maintains little job security in all arenas: private, collegiate, and professional.
But also, the unknown of when I’m going to start a family is slowly sinking in. It really hasn’t hit me until now because, well, my mom was 26 when she had me. And here I am, a now 26 year old single guy living in a studio apartment in Birmingham, Alabama. I don’t know, it’s just crazy to me that at this same age my mom was preparing to be a mother to an awesome and strikingly handsome son (hopefully you get my sense of humor and don’t think I’m a huge tool haha) and I’m here trying to plan my next mountain biking adventure. Not quite the same level of responsibilities.
There are many other unknowns in my life that I don’t need to get into because they will only bore you, but on the flip side there are also some pretty amazing aspects of my life that I do know. I know that God used year 25 to build me and mature me more than he ever has before. I know that God has revealed several of my weaknesses and has helped me to confront those and see growth in areas of my life that I never thought was possible. I know that God is cultivating my strengths to accomplish great things for his glory and for his kingdom. I can tangibly see how he is orchestrating all of these scenarios and it makes me incredibly excited attack year 26. Let’s do this!
*I just spent a season in pro ball so yeah I am pretty much obligated to use the word “eyewash” in this blog post