In 1998, I was a true freshman football player at The University of Michigan.  Our team was loaded with several players who would go on to the NFL, Tom Brady, Jon Jansen, Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus, Jay Feely, James Hall, Josh Williams, Ian Gold, Tia Streets, David Terrell, Aaron Shea, Mark Campbell, Jeremy Tuman, Anthony Thomas, Dhani Jones, Josh Williams, Maurice Williams, Larry Foote and more.  We played the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 1999 Florida Citrus Bowl.  As a young player I didn’t realize at the time that across the field from me was a player  I needed to meet.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet  Brandon Burlsworth on or off the field nor experience the leadership he gave to the Razorbacks

Ironically, just a few months before we played the Razorbacks in Orlando, Florida, I was presented with and rejected the message of Jesus Christ found in the Holy Bible.  I am ashamed to say that while in Orlando I gave myself over to my own selfish desires to a greater extent in a pattern of behavior that would literally lead to me NOT becoming Team Captain 4 years later.

A short stint as a free-agent with the Detroit Lion, a dramatic knee injury and an inevitable breakup with my high school sweetheart lead me to look for answers that Brandon Burlsworth embodied since he was a young child.  His faith, humility, and character are a great testimony to what happens when you apply the biblical principles to your life daily.

Yet, “bad things do happen to good people” as the saying goes.  However, as a believer in Jesus Christ and Holy Bible as God’s word we understand that no one is “good” only the God the father is “good” in the true meaning of the word.

Brandon’s life and the tragedy that ended his life force us to deal with a question.  If we do our very best in life, what will happen to us when we take our last breath on this earth?  His short lived life emphasizes to everyone that we need to make the most of every moment.  There is urgency for us to come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  There is urgency for us to read our Bible daily, to pray, and to share with others what God is teaching us.

I can only hope that a transformation would happen across the world by the will and grace of God as a result of those impacted by a loving God who desires to give each and every person on earth the everlasting gift of eternal life.  I believe God will inspire millions of individuals to become more purposeful with their lives and their influence by the power and grace of God will lead to transformation of lives like the example witnessed in the movie “Greater “ and by the Arkansas Razorback Football Team from 1994-1999.

It starts with us individually, submitting and surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ in an attitude of repentance.  A willingness to trust God, follow Jesus Christ and His commands recorded in the Bible.

Shawn Lazarus

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