My brothers and I were always doing dangerous and goofy things. We spent a lot of time on the lakes in the Midwest, water skiing and eventually wakeboarding (which was first called skiboarding). When my older brother and I moved to Florida for college, I got a job working at a ski school, where I spent most of my time coaching and riding.
One day, a guy approached me and introduced himself as the editor of Wakeboard Magazine. He told me I should try entering the competition down the street. I hadn’t competed much until that point, but I went for it. After that day, he said I should try riding on the pro tour. That brought me to tour a number of different cities, qualify for the pro tour finals in Portland where I made the top three, and land my first sponsor, Hyperlite. From that moment on, I thought, “Maybe I can give this a shot!”
But as I went back to school, I realized wakeboarding was distracting me from school, and school was distracting me from wakeboarding. I talked with my dad about going pro, which meant taking a break from school. We sat down and wrote down some goals; if I didn’t reach those goals by next semester, I would go back to school. Well, I exceeded those goals and made more, only to exceed those as well.
When I got into the wakeboard scene, I found myself involved with the party scene. My faith in God started to struggle. I began doubting the existence of Him, asking questions like, “How could a good God create a world with so much pain?” Though I wrestled with these questions, I still attended church, and even played guitar on the worship team, simply because I love playing music. But one day, after we played and I sat down in the congregation, God got my attention.
“How can you lead these people in worship when you have all these other things in your life that are breaking communication between Me and you?” I couldn’t ignore His voice. As I left church that day, I set more goals for myself: to walk away from those things and to read the whole Bible.
I took my time reading it, and after two years, I had read the whole book. Then I started again. It’s not just about the Word of God, it’s about spending time with Him, knowing each morning I’m going to sit down and have a hangout session with God. This has made a huge difference in my life; it’s given me a new perspective to take into each day.
Lately, I’ve been reading the amazing journey of the nation of Israel, which shows humanity continually walking away from God. Yet God brings them back by His grace alone. These people are His beloved, chosen people. He doesn’t choose the superstars, He usually chooses the underdogs. He chose people who were fighting sin and doubt and made them instrumental for His purposes.
He chooses people like me.
— Shaun Murray, USA wakeboarder