The Paths Unwalked (Part I)

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 6, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you ever had your life so defined by a sport, hobby, or activity, that you thought you would spend your whole life doing it? I did. Actually I had several sports and hobbies growing up that I thought I would be a professional at. I don’t mean just a casual kids dream of turning pro, I mean seriously turning pro. My trifecta of sports growing up was soccer, bowling, and competitive figure skating.

No joke, I was a hard-core figure skater from age 5 on up. By age 12, I had competed around my state and region, and I was being asked to train with an 8-year-old skater named Kristen. We were expected to progress toward the 1994 or 1998 Winter Olympics, and our training began with intensity. I even had the opportunity to audition and be asked to tour with Disney on Ice – although I declined it, for reasons I will explain later. Bowling was another sport that came easy, carrying a 200+ average as I progressed into my teen years.

The first 15 years of my life after I learned to walk were defined by these incredible sports, and even by the time I was 12 all three were in high gear. As each sport began to crystallize into a “career” path for me, some very interesting things began to happen. If you have ever played team sports or judged sports, you know the political turmoil and pressures that are always present in the sport. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say in skating and soccer, where all doors had always been open for me; there were suddenly roadblocks or outright barriers.

Soccer was an early casualty, as I couldn’t change school districts to play with the kids and coaches I grew up playing with. With skating, I faced the challenge of living apart from my family throughout the year to train in another state. But bowling was continuing to rocket forward.

By the time I was 18, I already was one of the top bowlers in the region, and bowled on a team of other teens who later would compete as professionals. Both soccer and skating were still huge passions of mine, but I let them both go as a new awareness was developing in me.

Around age 13, again when everything was relatively still in high gear for me, I awakened to a hunger to know who God was. I saw an excited TV preacher and couldn’t make sense of why he was so excited. I was Roman Catholic and I had learned about God, but He was never exciting. And this TV guy was just telling the story of Jesus – which I had heard before. His excitement about Jesus overcoming death and the grave was infectious – it pulled at me. Long after the TV show, I sat in my room trying to figure out what was so exciting. I read the Bible passage the preacher was talking about and it gripped me. I didn’t know why, and I didn’t even understand it all, but it grabbed my attention and my soul. I had to know why he was excited.

I dragged my family back to church. Catholic church first, then Methodist, then Pentecostal, and the list went on. My family didn’t connect with any of them, and I couldn’t drive, so the pursuit ended there, until I was 17. See, I started asking God for direction in my life, even as a 13-year-old. I believed God could hear me and that He would answer. I can’t describe it very well, other than I could sense God changing my passions, and my focus.

When soccer hit the political barrier, there was a significant shift of focus inside me. As much as I loved the sport and poured so much of my life into it, the passion was just gone. Then skating faced huge decisions – choices and challenges I thought would be a grand adventure to explore. I remember praying about moving, living elsewhere, and training for the Olympics. Every fiber of my being was excited to realize that what I had trained for was coming within my reach.

Check back next week for the rest of Nathan’s story!