Psalm 37:4, NIV
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I just had a conversation with my son, who is starting 7th grade track, that my wife and I were track athletes from Junior High through College. My wife was a distance runner and I was a pole vaulter. My son asked the obvious question: How did you even get into pole vaulting? I recounted the story of how, one day for gym class the gym teacher set up the pole vault pits in the gymnasium because it was raining outside. We had a competition and guess who won? Yep, me.
I will never forget that day, almost 40 years ago, when this gym teacher, who I admired, looked at me and said I was good and should go out for the track team. That is how and when I developed a love for the track & field. After emphasizing the power of encouraging words on people to my son, I started to reminisce about my career and how it has come full circle now today.
I was blessed with a great High School and College career as an athlete and equal success as a college coach. My love for the track events was only surpassed by the love I had for my wife, and life was wonderful. We moved to Allendale, Michigan to a house that had two acres and a barn one mile from Grand Valley State University. I had made arrangements with GVSU's track coach to help with the team. They gave me an old set of pole vault mats that I put in my back yard, as well as other track-related items that I put in the barn to use when the weather was bad.
I had it all figured out. I would work during the day, coach in the afternoon and run Pole Vault camps from my home in the evenings and weekends. How could it be any better?
Well, by God's wonderful grace, I got saved!
My dreams, thoughts and life started to change. I still wanted to do all the same things, but it became much harder. My family was growing, my faith was growing, my business was growing and there came a time that I could not fit all the family, faith, work, and pole vaulting all in.
I tried hard to make it all work and thought "God will give me the desires of my heart." He knew the desire of my heart is to continue to do track & field. God was persistent though and eventually I realized that the "desires of my heart" needed to be Him. I took a step back from all things track and field and pole vault and focused on what God was calling me to.
After several years of falling deeper in love with God and maturing in my faith I received a phone call from the Chaplain at GVSU asking if I would like to be the new Chaplain of the track team. With much prayer and discussions I accepted the volunteer position.
I get the privilege of befriending 160 young adults, getting into their lives and being a Godly influence on a weekly basis. Just recently at the Indoor Conference meet I was able to share my testimony and the Gospel with about 20-30 of them. Some have been coming to Wellspring and I anticipate God is going to do many more wonderful things through them!
It's just amazing what God will do for you if you are willing to surrender your life, desires and dreams to him. I am back involved with a sport that I truly love, but, this time for Him and His Glory.
Tony Bonacci serves as an elder at Wellspring Church, and is the owner of Stitchtime International.