Living a Christ-Centered Life - Amber Neben
When I was 4 years old, I was in the hospital with spinal meningitis. They told my parents I was going to die, but if I survived I would be brain-damaged and deaf. I made it through that, and during that time, I know my parents had some friends who were Christ-followers who were praying for me. As a result, my family started going to church.
I went to a Christ-centered grade school, so I was around really solid people who walked their faith and talked about Christ. Through that, more so than anything, God was working in my heart at a very young age. I remember as an eighth grader having a really strong faith already. Then in high school when I started dealing with my injuries, my faith was already really solid.
I played soccer and was a distance runner in high school, but I began experiencing stress fractures around the end of high school. I went to college on a track scholarship, but the injuries kept me on and off the field. I really knew that God had given me something special but I wasn’t getting the chance to use it. It was four years of just waiting, trusting, and as the Bible says, “rejoice in your suffering, because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope” (Romans 5:3-4). That whole process happened over those four years while I was struggling with running.
Someone took me out for a bike ride when I was in graduate school, and I loved it. When I found out you could race bikes, I started racing. I missed the Olympic team in 2004 by 8 seconds, then made the 2008 team. I had to fight for four years to come back. During that time, I had a two-year stretch with three really bad crashes and a torn muscle, surgery on my hand and finger, a broken shoulder, a shattered collarbone and another surgery.
It was one of those times where I spent a lot of time talking to God, asking, “Am I on track?” With a lot of prayer and consideration, I knew I just had to run the race set before me and persevere through it. God’s going to be with us, and we use His strength in the midst of all of it to get through it. It’s why I am here and how I got here… it’s all because of Him.
One of my favorite quotes is “always be a witness for Christ and if necessary use words.” I think in sport, just living a life that reflects Christ, walking in a way that honors God and is real, and being genuine in who you are is huge. People need to see followers of Christ live a Christ-centered life. Sport is the best way to be on that stage and to do that. When people have a chance to share how they got to the places they’ve gotten to, it has that much more of an impact.
—Amber Neben, USA cyclist