I had just finished playing my third year in the European professional basketball league. I loved playing the game. It had been my life’s passion since I was a kid. Having reached a relatively high level of success, I enjoyed being able to play for as long as possible. So as the season came to an end, I signed a contract to play for a fourth year.
I traveled back to the U.S. for the summer, and decided to work at the University of North Carolina basketball camp. While there, I experienced a growing sense that I needed to start thinking about something other than basketball. Strangely, the feeling of thinking ahead intensified even though I’d just signed a contract to play another season.
Then the telegram came. It was from my team in Europe. They had decided to void my contract and sign a different player. My days of playing competitive basketball at a high level had abruptly come to an end. Poof! Gone in a moment.
After a few hours, reality finally hit me. What do I do now? What career path do I pursue? I had started wondering if I needed to think about the future, now the future was staring me in the face.
I sought counsel from my college basketball coach, Dean Smith. He encouraged me to call John Lotz, my former assistant coach who was now the head coach at the University of Florida. John said regrettably, he wasn’t able to help. He had already promised his graduate assistantship to another person, a position that would have been perfect for me.
My anxiety grew. I didn’t know what to do. I experienced a sleepless night, tossing and turning, trying to figure out my next steps. Worry became a close friend. Mom and Dad tried to counsel me, but there was little help they could give me. I was on my own.
The next day, the phone rang. It was John Lotz. He told me that the person who was going to serve in the graduate assistantship had just walked into his office and told him that he wanted to pursue a different career path. The position was mine if I wanted it.
What happened next was nothing short of a miraculous display of God’s provision. The Lord intervened multiple times during a series of events, which resulted in my admission to the graduate program in counseling.
Looking back, I can see how God’s hand guided me through that time. He knew I needed to be in Gainesville. He had all the details in his hands. Over the next two years, the Lord developed in me an eternal perspective, one that has helped me overcome anxiety throughout my life. I’ll share that part of the story tomorrow.