Periods of my life where I have experienced some of my greatest losses have turned out to be the places where God has given me the greatest opportunities. Sometimes life as we know it slams to a halt. In these times, God is able to reveal where our priorities have gone askew and remind us of what is truly important. With our willingness to submit to His will, He is able to reset our course to an eternally more significant one, greater than we could ever imagine. God has done this several times in my life. One such time was several years ago. I know without a doubt that there are people who know Jesus today because God changed the course of my life through an event that, at the time, I considered to be a great loss.
Allow me to share…
I’ve played volleyball and softball for most of my adult life—and—I was NOT casual about it. It was my great passion! I played year-round. I played through pregnancies. It wasn’t uncommon to find me on a softball field, a sand court, or in a gym—multiple times during the week.
When my girls were old enough, I coached their teams and recruited them to play on my travel teams. I was known among the volleyball and softball crowd as someone who was always up to join a team for a tournament. I would rearrange my schedule, skip church, and shove other important things aside—just to play. As a matter of fact, even just the other day, I got a call from a man asking if I could go play a tourney in St. Louis. He didn’t know I’d been forced to hang it up several years ago. What happened? Well, during a co-ed volleyball tournament, I was blocking a 6’4″ dude, and as the ball hit my hand, I felt my left shoulder pop. My arm dropped and dangled by my side. What I didn’t know at the time was that the last remaining segment of my rotator cuff had snapped. I was in excruciating pain for two weeks before having a cadaver transplant to stabilize my shoulder. I was faced with the abrupt realization that my playing days were over. It was my third rotator cuff surgery, and there was nothing the doctor could do to restore my shoulder to playing strength. While I was profoundly grateful to not be in pain and to have the basic use of my left arm—there would be no more sports for me.
If I had not begun to develop a deep sense of God’s presence and His purpose for my life, I would have been crushed!
But you see, when this happened, I was about three years into my passionate pursuit of God. Wisely and graciously He had given me time to develop experience in His presence before allowing this radical life change to occur. He knew that I was ready to begin pursuing the GREATER opportunities He had planned for me. He slammed on the brakes of my life as I had known it and—gave me the peace to know that HE had a better plan. God shut the sports door for me but opened up a greater path of fulfillment in my life. That is God’s way. He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him so we can be ready to experience the BEST life He has planned for us.
God often uses trouble to change our course onto this remarkable path. For example, consider the Apostle Paul’s trouble and how God used it to give Paul opportunities. Paul was wise enough to understand that God’s plan was BETTER than his own. Paul was inspired by God to write:
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing [the trouble] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
And He [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore most GLADLY I will rather BOAST in my INFIRMITIES, that the POWER of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take PLEASURE in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Wow! How do we gain the perspective of taking PLEASURE in our trouble and pain?
Well, when we fall in love with God we realize that the worst thing that could ever happen is NOT pain and trouble but rather—to lose our sense of His presence. When we are close to Him, our circumstances do not define our joy because He IS our joy and He NEVER changes. The happiness I experienced playing sports can’t hold a candle to the unimaginable joy of helping people come to the knowledge of Jesus. God has exchanged those hours sweating on the field and in the gym for hours coming alongside people and teaching them how to have a relationship with HIM! HE creates these opportunities and—they bring far greater joy. As for the severed rotator cuff, I don’t know if I would have ever followed the amazing path my life is on now without a such a radical injury!
I’m so grateful to God for breaking me of my sports addiction!
Though I will live with the physical limitation for the rest of my life, God has put me on a playing field that is much more significant. It’s a battlefield for the eternal destination of lost souls.
What I have LOST does not compare to what I have GAINED; rather, what I have GAINED will NEVER be LOST!
We would love to hear your thoughts about this devotional. Did God speak to you or challenge your daily walk with him? Or is there a topic that you would like Kimberly to cover or expound on? Please share with us in the comments below.
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