Ruwan Kalpage is former Sri Lankan cricketer who played in the 1992 Cricket World Cup. He coaches Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the national level.
The experience which I am about to relate occurred a few years ago. When I went to service my car, I met a person who worked in the same company I worked for a few years prior. Although we had never met or talked, there became an appointed time in my life for this person to talk to me.
My life was centred on two things: cricket and religion. From the age of nine, I was very interested in cricket, as my father was a reputed cricketer. My childhood dreams were fulfilled when I was selected to represent Sri Lanka in the Test team.
I was brought up in a religious background that demanded strict compliance of rituals and discipline. I followed religious observances and lived a life I thought was good and correct. But while playing cricket, I indulged in many vices I thought were normal. I did not feel bad about these things.
My cricket career had many ups and downs. I played in the 1992 World Cup tournament but then was subsequently dropped from the team in 1996. I knew it was not going to be easy to make a comeback to the team in the future with the tough competition among players.
Suddenly this disappointment became an appointment for me. The person I met at the service station had the same background as me. He began to talk about a God who was close to him; he said we are created by this God who loves us. Further, I was told God could rule over my life and change things for me.
At this point of time in my life, my family life was not in the best of shape. I had a lot of misunderstandings and arguments with my wife. All of this, as well as career disappointments, were making me very frustrated. When I heard there was a God who loved me, cared for me and understood what I was going through, it surprised me. This person also told me this God who created the universe had also sent His Son Jesus to live and die for me.
After hearing about this God and His Son, Jesus Christ, I knew my life was not on the right path. I decided to change my life and hand it over to God so He could lead and rule over me. I was going through a difficult patch in life, but when I opened my heart to God, it turned out to be the best decision ever in my life.
Life hasn't been the same since. I feel I have rediscovered it. God changed every aspect of my life. I was called back to the Sri Lankan team after two years and once again, I represented Sri Lanka at the World Cup, the 1999 tournament in the UK. Furthermore, my family life was also restored.
I now have satisfaction as I live with joy and peace with my wife, and I've been blessed with a daughter and son. I do not feel frustrated when things become tough or go wrong. I know there is God who walks with me. I know it is Jesus who changed my life and gave me a new direction. If not for Jesus, my life would be a disaster.
I retired from cricket in 2000, and for the last 18 years I've been an international coach, travelling all over the world. Cricket does not control my life anymore. My trust is in the Lord Jesus who made all things new for me. I know He came to this world to give life abundantly.
Today, I urge you to turn your life to Jesus and experience the miracle of a new life – one full of joy, peace and contentment. Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Put your trust in the living God; He will never put you to shame. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can be victorious in Him.
Ruwan's favourite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."•
This story first appeared in the Sport Go Magazine. Used with kind permission.