William Robert had the chance to go back to football, but he chose a different path. It was risky, yes. But risk is dependent upon your perspective. To William, it was riskier to not pursue his real passion, to follow his heart down a path with more uncertainty, even though he knew it was the right one.
William was a football star. He played under the Friday night lights in central Texas and he was good. Really good. So good, that he went on to play for the University of Texas, then the Detroit Lions. Yes, those Lions. The NFL – he had made it. William was making the money and gaining the fame. His life was enviable. How lucky, you might say. Lots of people dream of getting there and never make it. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s really hard and very rare. Only a tiny percentage of football players ever get there. But William was one who did. His life was set.
Then injury happened. His knee blew out and his football career came to an abrupt halt. Everything he had worked so hard for slammed to a crashing stop. It sent William into a tailspin. His life was flipped on its edge. The fame was gone. The chance at big money with it. Enter depression.
William then began a trek back to the heart of God. Through a series of events, William found himself in a meeting in which his knee was healed. (An amazing story that you can hear on the podcast.) It was a miracle. Suddenly, the possibility of continuing his football career returned. So, naturally he started playing again, right? This is where the story gets interesting…and powerful.
You see, during all those trips to other cities to play football, William carried something else with him besides pads and cleats. He brought his guitar. His first love, really, is music. Although he wasn’t well known for it yet, it was his calling, and William knew it.
You can hear the rest of his story on the podcast. The point is that choosing football would have made a lot of sense on paper. We love football players. They get a lot of attention. They make a lot of money. They’re famous. To some, that may be all the enticement needed to make the choice. But William knew in his heart that it wasn’t his passion. It wasn’t his calling. He had the chance to go back to what was known and comfortable, or to step out into the unknown, where faith was required.
We are all faced with choices like this in our lives. So often we are confronted with decisions and motivations that are influenced by money, notoriety, recognition, etc. Sometimes we talk ourselves into the idea that making money now will buy us the freedom or the margin to actually follow our heart later. For some reason, this plan never seems to pan out. It gets harder and harder to do the older we get. I’m not saying making money is a bad thing, or that we should make our lives difficult on purpose. What I’m saying is that God has put a roadmap within our hearts to follow. Pursuing your passion and building it into something will bring you the provision you need to sustain it if you stick with it long enough. Perhaps we are looking for short cuts – ways to circumvent the process of growing into our calling. But the desire in our hearts will not leave. You can follow it now, or look back some day and wish you had followed it.
William Robert turned down the chance to play football again. He knew the path to take. He didn’t know where it would lead, but he took it anyway. Whatever place he ends up, whatever person he becomes, and whatever legacy his life produces will be greatly influenced by making that choice.
What does that path look like for you?
Maybe you don’t exactly know right now. It’s never super clear. Our vision of these things often gets clouded by expectations and responsibilities of life – both of which usually increase the older we get. I don’t know the path you should take, but there is Someone who does. If you lean into William’s story, you’ll notice when things became clear. He first came back to the heart of the Father, the one who planted the desire in him in the first place.
“…He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:6
“He guides me along the right paths…” – Psalms 23:3
At the end of the day…when it’s all said and done, what will you hang your hat on? What will you look back on and wonder about? What will really matter?
Did you follow your heart? Did you choose the road less traveled?
Did you leave a legacy?