When I was eleven years old, there was something I wanted more than anything else, and that was to play football.
I was homeschooled, so it was a bit more difficult for me to play for a junior high team, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. We found a Christian school that would allow me to play on their team, but the price tag was a solid $200.
My parents told me that if I wanted to play, I would have to raise the money myself. $200 is a pretty steep number for an 11-year-old. So, summer job here I come.
By the time the next football season came around, I had raised the $200 and was able to pay my own way to the team. And boy, did I ever play. It was one of the best fall seasons of my life–full of ups and downs, as well as a lot of growth personally and as a team.
I could not wait for the next football season, I started saving up as soon as that first one was over. I was going to make sure I had the $200 before the first hint of fall.
At this point, I had just turned twelve, which meant I was now a part of the youth group at our church. They were planning a trip to NAYC, which is a huge youth conference held every other year. The cost to attend would be close to $500 dollars.
This brought my total “need to save” amount to $700. Of course, I saved the $200 for football and set that aside first, then I saved up for the church trip.
My main desire during that time was to play football. It was at the top of my priority list.
Then I went to NAYC, and the services rocked my world. It was powerful, God was moving tangibly and drawing me closer to Him. Then it happened. On the last night of the event, I heard it. God was telling me to quit football.
Now that was the absolute last thing I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed because, as I said, my #1 desire was to play football when it should have been the things of God.
God was asking me what I was after, the things of heavenly places or the things of the flesh? I chose the things of God and quit football.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I remember calling my coach and choking back tears as I told him I was done with football. It’s kind of funny to me now, but to a 12-year-old me, it meant everything.
Even though the choice was hard, I know I made the right one because my priority was now the things of God, and that desire has opened up more doors than football ever could.
Desire is a powerful thing, and ours determines the direction we go. That’s not just the case for me either, just look at Cain and Abel.
Abel had a desire to sacrifice God’s way while Cain wanted to do it Cain’s way. God blessed Abel’s sacrifice, yet Cain’s He rejected. Then God gave Cain a second chance, but Cain’s desire for his flesh caused him to turn that second chance down. His subjection to his own fleshly desires and passions drove him to kill his brother and, ultimately, be cast aside and cursed by God.
Then we have Jacob and Esau. Jacob’s desire for the birthright put something inside of him that said, “no matter what it takes, I’m getting that birthright.” At the same time, Esau’s desire for his flesh caused him to give up his birthright for a small bowl of soup.
We have to make sure that our desires are right. Our desires will determine where we go because our desires determine our effort and our direction, which determine our future.