Thursday, October 12, 2017 was a great day for the Philadelphia Eagles. They defeated the Panthers in Charlotte on a nationally televised Thursday night game, bringing their record to 5-1. The night before the game, something even better happened! Eagles Wide Receiver Marcus Johnson became baptized into Christ! It was a great day for the Eagles!
But not for Chris Maragos.
Maragos is a unique football player and an inspirational human being. In NFL terms, he’s a little guy, measuring in at only 5’10” and weighing 200 lbs. After high school, he enrolled at Western Michigan University as a wide receiver. He played sparingly as a freshman, reeling in 25 catches for 222 yards. With his football career not getting off to the start he desired, he felt God leading him to transfer to a different school.
Maragos had a great option. He could transfer to a Division II school, Grand Valley State, where he would receive a full football scholarship, start at wide receiver, would live relatively close to his girlfriend, Serah, (who is now his wife), and, because he would be transferring to a lower level, he would get to play the very next season (NCAA rules require that a player who transfers from one Division I school to another to sit out a year).
He never attended Grand Valley State.
Instead, he felt called to enroll in a different school, the University of Wisconsin. His friends thought he was crazy. He says in an interview with the Increase that people were asking him; “If you can’t even make it on Western Michigan, how are you going to make it at Wisconsin?” But that’s where he felt called, so that’s where he went.
The transition to Wisconsin wasn’t an easy one. He received no scholarship. He would have to sit out for a year. For a while, he wasn’t even sure he would make the team! They wanted him to change his position from wide receiver to safety. But as time passed, things began to fall into place. He made the team, earned a scholarship, became a team captain, and ultimately played well enough to sign an NFL contract with the San Francisco 49ers. He only played in 3 games with the 49ers, but signed with the Seahawks the following year, with whom he would win the Super Bowl following the 2013 season.
The 2013 season was a dream season for Maragos. On October 12, the 2017 season turned into a nightmare. On what he calls a ‘fluke play,’ Maragos tore his posterior cruciate ligament, ending his season. The injury has been a difficult one. Maragos explained the process to The Increase;
“After surgery I went from 200 pounds to 178 in a few weeks. The procedure literally zapped me of all my strength; I couldn’t eat for 10 days after. During this extremely hard time, one thing became really clear to me: just how dependent I am on the Lord. I had to completely lean into Him and trust that He would bring me through this. I felt like I had been stripped down to nothing as I learned to rely on Him for all the mundane, daily things that are easy to take for granted. I was barely able to move or eat; the simplest things suddenly became almost impossible and very time consuming… [After] surgery, suddenly I had to trust in God for every detail and find my strength in Him for even the smallest of things. It’s been a painful process and recovery is slow, but I’ve found a new contentment in the Lord unlike anything I have experienced before.”
“I can’t imagine going through this time without Jesus by my side. When difficult times come, all I have to rest in is the love and sovereignty of God. I’m continually asking the Lord, “How can I honor and serve You with my life? How can I draw others to You?” But during this time I’ve realized that though I can still point others toward Christ through this situation, God wants to refine me in this time. He wants me to draw closer to Him as He both challenges and encourages me. The Lord is meeting me here in the pain.”
It hasn’t been easy for Maragos. He confesses that “these circumstances have definitely not been easy for me. My heart is heavy as I wrestle with this every day.” What’s gotten him through it is his faith. One of his favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Maragos explains; “The Christian walk is not about following something blindly. It’s about trusting in God’s Word and gaining assurance from His promises, which He makes very clear to us. This is what gives us strong faith. We can have confidence in things not seen because of the resurrection of Christ and the hope God has given us through His Word and His Spirit. This is true. This is accurate. This is sure.”
Regardless of what happens on February 4, the 2017 season will not have a fairytale ending for Chris Maragos. But he knows for certain that God will be there to help him through these difficult times, and that the fairytale ending he’s looking forward to most – eternal life with Christ – is a sure thing!