Blake Stenstrom – Why I Play

Throughout my life, the situations where I have always felt most comfortable have been when I have had a football in my hands. I love every single aspect of the game of football. I love watching the ball soar right over the heads of defenders and into the hands of my receivers. I love that each play is like a blank canvas, ready to be created and set into motion. I love the mental challenge of having to know exactly what the offense needs to do, but also having to react to the unpredictable defense. I love having to strive for the unachievable goal of being the person who is prepared for anything and everything. I love celebrating wins with my team, and pushing forward with them through losses.  I love the work put in at 5:30 AM, when we as brothers sweat and strive together to achieve our ultimate goal. Most of all, I love this game because it is one of my favorite forms of worship to my Creator.

While the word worship usually makes people think of singing songs in church or shouting out “Hallelujah”, the fundamental essence of worship is honoring God in whatever you do. When I give my all in playing football, I believe I am pleasing the Lord because I am using the physical and mental gifts He has given to me. In the spring of 2016, my family and I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya. While we were there we spent most of our time in Nairobi, specifically in a slum called Kibera. In the middle of this slum, where 1.2 million people live in a 2.5 square kilometer area in houses made of mud and junk, there was a school in a church run by Compassion International. In that school, the person that stood out to me the most was the woman who taught the 3-4 year old children. The joy and energy that she brought to teaching these kids were something that I had never seen before. The fact that she could be doing her job every single day in the conditions that she lives in, with never ending joy and passion gave me a new perspective on using my gifts to glorify the Lord.

At Valor Christian, it is easy to remember why I play this game. It is such a gift that I am surrounded by coaches and players who share the same goal: to glorify the Lord in the way we play. When I put on my jersey on gameday, I read the name on the front and am reminded that I am a part of something much bigger than myself. I get to strap up my chinstrap and play for not only my teammates, but more importantly, for the glory of my Father in heaven.

There are days where I wake up and I feel tired and my body feels sore. On those days, I might feel like just going through the motions and not giving it my all, but then I remember why I do what I do. I play not just because of my love and passion for the game of football, but also because when I play to the best of my ability, I am worshipping the Lord.