NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown and Super Bowl champion quarterback Jeff Hostetler achieved amazing success in their sport, and have witnessed the power of God in their personal and professional lives. Tim Brown’s career spanned a record-breaking 17 years in the NFL. His motivation to succeed in life and in football was driven by a desire to reconcile with his father, after a misunderstanding when Tim was only 12 years old drove them apart for years. Tim recalls the life-changing moment with his father that would define his path for over a decade. We welcome back Jeff Hostetler for the continuation of his amazing story. Jeff led the New York Giants to their win in Super Bowl XXV some 1 ½ months after starting quarterback Phil Simms went out for the season with a broken foot. He tells us about his rocky start in the league, the family crises he endured during that time, and how he was able to realize the purpose for years of hard waiting as he learned to trust God’s timing in his life.
Tim Brown: Man, is God in the middle of a father and son not talking for 12 years? Is God really in the middle of that? Some people may have a hard time believing that that’s the case. But I think when it turns out the way it turned out, I believe He is.
Learning to Trust God’s Timing: Tim Brown and Jeff Hostetler – Episode #132
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Our guests today have both achieved amazing success in their sport, and have witnessed the power of God in both their personal and professional lives: Heisman trophy winner and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown and Super Bowl champion quarterback Jeff Hostetler.
First up is Tim Brown, a football player whose career spanned a record-breaking 17 years in the NFL. Tim’s motivation to succeed in life and in football was greatly driven by a desire to reconcile with his father, after a misunderstanding between them that happened when Tim was only 12 years old drove them apart for years. Tim recalls his early days with his family and that life-changing moment with his father that would define his path for over a decade.
Tim Brown: I’m Tim Brown. 1987 Heisman Trophy winner, 2015 NFL Hall of Famer. I played 17 years in the NFL.
A Fearful Night Forges a Path to the NFL
We grew up in South Dallas. It was four kids and my parents living in a two-bedroom duplex, and the neighborhood was really bad. All these cuts and scars on my face all happened before I was 6 years old. I found a bullet and I had a hammer, and decided bullet should meet hammer. I mean, just there’s all kinds of things that happened.
We moved to Southeast Dallas to a three-bedroom house, a little house on a hill that was pretty nice. My brother moved out, but the two girls had the bedrooms and not Timmy. Timmy still slept on the couch, and I think that’s what this dent came from. I rolled off the couch and hit my head on the corner of the coffee table.
Mom and Dad had a great relationship. Never saw them fight or argue—obviously they did, but never in front of us. Dad was a foreman on construction sites. He was not a church guy, per se. He’d go with us, you know, Father’s Day and Easter.
But Mom was a missionary in the church. So Wednesday, Friday, all the sudden she was at church and there she was, there we were. So we had to we had to go. We had to go to church.
Dad was working all the time. He’d never miss a day of work. He was very steady guy, and he partied as hard as he worked.
He owned a nightclub also. Really, we would see him for about two hours every night when he got home from work. He’d go shower, lay down for a minute. Then it was out to his club, you know, and he’d be home, you know, 12 o’clock to get up at 5:00 and do it all over again. That’s how he did it.
There weren’t many of my friends who had both their parents, or maybe they were on a second marriage. So there was always some stepmom/stepdad type situations, but I was very fortunate from that standpoint.
But I think everything changed for me when I was 13.
My dad was a bit of a drinker. And because I slept on the couch in the den most of the time, sometimes I would sleep on the floor wherever he came home. He was a little intoxicated one night, and it was a late night. I should have been asleep—it was a school night—but I was watching a movie. It was a good movie too. I think it was a Tarzan movie. It was good.
And he [came in and] turned the TV off. And I just said, “Hey, Pop, I’m watching it.”
But in his mind, the fact that I was coming at him, he thought I was coming after him. It was all because of alcohol because me and my dad had a great relationship up until then.
And [he said], “Are you coming after me? Oh, I’ll kill you. Oh no, you don’t come after me.”
And you hear those words come out of your dad’s mouth, and . . . it was tough stuff to hear. And I said, “Man, no no no, I was just watching the TV.”
“No, you were coming after me.”
“No no no.”
I realized he was a little over the limit, and so now I was like, “Okay, let me go get Mama.” Because he’s going out to his truck, and I know he had guns in his truck because every night he would come home with big buckets of change from the machines in the nightclub. And on either side of those buckets, guns.
So we went outside to the truck. I was like, “Man, this is getting real serious now.” So my mom is out there and she’s like, “Gene, Gene, you got to settle down.”
We had a plastic tree in the corner of the other room, and I could remember going and hiding behind that tree as if that tree was going to stop a bullet. But in my mind, I had to do something.
And that really changed the dynamics of my relationship with my dad for years—and really, the dynamic of the family for a while too. It was tough.
I remember from that time, for the next 12 years, everything I did was to get the affection of my dad back. Everything I did. I never saw my dad at my games in high school. I learned years later that he would be there—he just wouldn’t be sitting in the stands. He would be at some gate or something.
“For the next 12 years, everything I did was to get the affection of my dad back.” – Tim Brown
And I’m telling you that thing went all through graduating high school to getting a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, graduating at University of Notre Dame, when I was into being drafted the league. I got hurt my second year. I was like, “Well, maybe this will do it.” I remember buying him a brand new truck in ‘91, thinking that would do it.
After 12 Years, Father and Son Forgive Each Other
I think it was ‘92 when I said, “This has got to stop. I just can’t. I mean it’s been 12–13 years at this point. I can’t.”
When I’d come to the house, he’d go out the back door. Because of my status at that particular point, he really couldn’t say anything to me. I was paying for the house. I was taking care of everything, and to my dad, it felt like he was, you know, de-masculinized or whatever. But at the same time, you could tell that it bothered him.
So we were never in a room together. I mean, when I say never, that’s not an exaggeration. It was just uncomfortable for everybody if we were in the room because people just didn’t know what was going to happen.
One of my coaches told me this early into this process. He said, “Whatever you do, don’t disrespect your dad. Always respect him, because he’ll realize one day.” And that’s what I did. I always gave him the utmost respect. Never crossed words, never talked back, anything of that nature.
I had made up my mind on the plane that this was going to be it. And I knew the routine he did—I went out the front door. So I did one of my patented moves. You know, people always go to the front door and I just walked around the house. And by the time I got there, he was coming out the door. I was standing right there. And I said to him, “This has to end today.” And I said this was the thing that had been wearing on my soul for a couple of years prior.
I was being told in my spirit that I should apologize to my father, that I should ask him for forgiveness. And I’m like, “Hold up. I bought this car. I bought this house. I mean, I did this. I’m the one. And he was the one who threatened me.”
The Spirit said, “Look, if you would have gotten out that bed that night do you think this would have happened? Do you think [your football career] would have happened if you didn’t make that move?”
I couldn’t answer that question because I don’t think it would’ve happened.
And so that’s why I told him. I said, “I need for you to forgive me, and I will forgive you. But I need for you to forgive me. I need for you to be my father. I need for you to be the man that I’ve known you to be my whole life.”
“[I told my dad], ‘I need for you to be my father. I need for you to be the man that I’ve known you to be my whole life.’” – Tim Brown
We hugged it out, shook hands, all that stuff. And for the next 20 years of his life, we were perfect. We had an incredible, incredible relationship. And thankfully, I got the strength to go to him and make things right.
I really believe that changed my life because that 12 years, my mindset was to do everything as perfect as I could, to do something great enough to get this man’s attention. Would I have had that same motivation? It’s amazing how things happen.
You know, you say, “I wish I had done it years earlier,” because it was definitely inside of me to do that. But I had to deal with some things with myself too, and mature to the point where you realize what’s really happening here, and the effect that it can have on people for years and years to come.
God allows things that happen. If at the end of that thing you’re still on this earth, then the lesson is for you to get something out of it, and try and make the best out of it.
It was tough, and that was part of my real battle because I got to the point where I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. Literally. My running joke is I’m glad I didn’t have a big afro I had to shape up every day, because it would have been lopsided. I wash my face, brush my teeth, but I could not look at myself in the mirror because I knew that God was calling me to be different than who I was. And when you’re 23, 24, 25, 26 and at same time you haven’t a pretty decent NFL career, so nobody can figure out why you are unhappy. “Why you walking around here moping?” But they didn’t know the struggle that I had going on inside of me because I knew God had a bigger calling for my life.
“God was there all this time.”
And I can remember—I don’t want you guys to think I’m crazy, but I used to talk to God. I mean, I never heard an audible voice, but I can remember God just telling me, “Tim Brown, I need you to do My will.”
And I would answer Him, but I would tell them all the things that I was doing—what I had done and what I had accomplished. “Why can’t I just stay on this on this path?”
And I would hear, “Oh, is that the problem? So you think it was you who got you a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame on a team that was 4-25-1? You think that was you. Is that the problem we’re having, Tim Brown? You think it was you who allowed you to win the Heisman Trophy, to become the first receiver to break all these records, to hurt your knee and to come back and be playing? Is that the problem that we’re having, that you believe this is all you?”
And you get to going, “Wow . . . God was there all the time.”
And I said, “Lord, save me and save me good. I need everything that You have. I need to be able to do what I have to do.”
I mean, I’m in the middle of an incredible career right now. And I have a locker room I got to go back to that is full of mess—a lot of it I brought into locker room, let’s be honest about it. And now I’ve got to go and tell these boys I’m not participating in that anymore. “I’m not going to do this. I’m not going to do that.” It’s not an easy thing to do, when you all of a sudden say, “Hey, that’s not me anymore.”
It took a while. I was being mocked, all those kinds of things. After a couple of years, the guys realized I really meant what I said, and they really started to support me. And that became a big boost in my spiritual [life]. Because I knew at that point that if you do this thing right, then people will follow you and they want to hear what you say. Even the same people who are mocking you are all of the sudden pulling you over going, “Hey, man, I’ve never seen anyone do this like you’re doing it. What’s going on?” It gives you a witness to them, you know.
“I knew at that point that if you do this thing right, then people will follow you and they want to hear what you say.” – Tim Brown
Man, God took me from doing X Y Z to this, to where I am now. But we just have to be strong enough to understand that if God allows something to happen, He means something good to come out of it. But if you’re still here, you’ve got to dig down deep, and that’s hard.
Writing the Pages of NFL History
Narration: As Tim began to see the fruits of answering God’s call in his life, he also began to see his career wrap up in a way that he never expected: setting a record for the longest career as an NFL player at 17 years.
Tim Brown: People were starting to say, “Hey, man, your numbers are looking like they can be Hall of Fame numbers.” Really, the Hall of Fame is not something you can think about. You know what I mean? It’s so big for an NFL player that is not something you came to think about.
I was in prayer one night and as clear as day I heard, “I don’t have you here just so you can get in the Hall of Fame. I have you here so you can touch men.”
I’m telling you, I got off my knees and I was boxing with God that night. And if my wife would’ve walked in the room, she would’ve said that I lost my mind for sure that night Because I was saying, “Look I got a job. I got a shoulder that pops out of place. I have a scar on my knee right here. I need to be in the Hall of Fame. I ain’t thinking about no men. I need to be in the Hall of Fame.”
And God reminded me again. “Here we go again. Here we go again. Do you need me to remind you again who has really been in charge?”
And it is at that point where I realized God had been setting me up my whole life.
In 1989, my second year in the league, I tore my knee up. And the doctor told me, “Tim, because of what we had to do, we just don’t see it lasting four or five years. So you need to prepare yourself to leave the game.”
And that’s basically why I said, “If I can make it after 30, man, that would be [great].” And I was really blessed. I played 15 years, and I missed one game. I could play the game—they just kept me out. But you know to have that kind of longevity after a major injury was pretty unusual.
My plan was to play till I was 30. And at 30, I had my best year in the league, stats wise. So I was like, “Well, let’s give this a couple more years and see what happens.”
And then when I turned 32, I was thinking about retiring again. And they brought in Coach Jon Gruden, and he told me, “We can do some special things together. Give me one year. If you don’t like it, then we can part ways.” And I had a great year that year.
And so by the time he left, I was 34, 35. And so I had a chance to put my name in the history books. So I stayed around a couple more years to make sure that got done.
“I know He’s got me.”
Narrator: Tim is now enjoying this new season of his life, and how God has guided his path to use his influence as a football player, and his personal story of reconciliation with his father, to help others reach their dreams and overcome their hurts. He shares a passage from Jesus Calling that underscores his feelings about where God has brought him.
Linger in My Presence a while. Rein in your impulses to plunge into the day’s activities. Beginning your day alone with Me is essential preparation for success. A great athlete takes time to prepare himself mentally for the feat ahead of him before he moves a muscle. Similarly, your time of being still in My Presence equips you for the day ahead of you. Only I know what will happen to you this day. I have arranged the events you will encounter as you go along your way. If you are not adequately equipped for the journey, you will grow weary and lose heart. Relax with Me while I ready you for action.
That’s something that hits home with me.
One of the things I used to do to literally steady myself [was get] on the floor and just lay down and think about everything I was about to do. I would think about the guys I was playing against, what the techniques they used and how I was going to defeat those guys doing different things.
I never really thought about . . . I mean, how awesome would it be to do that and think about God’s Word while you do that? Yikes. That would be really neat. I don’t know if I could get up. I’d be I’d be crying too much, I wouldn’t even get up. Oh boy, that’s an awesome passage right there.
There are just so many things we have to deal with in this world that can be overwhelming—I mean, literally that could be overwhelming. But there’s just so much comfort and peace in knowing that, man, I know He’s got me.
Narrator: You can find Tim Brown’s book, The Making of a Man: How Men and Boys Honor God and Live with Integrity, at your favorite book retailer.
Narrator: Stay tuned for our talk with Super Bowl Champion quarterback Jeff Hostetler after a brief message about a beautiful new edition of Jesus Calling!
Narrator: Are you looking to introduce a friend or loved one to the peace that can be found by spending time with God daily? There’s a beautiful new edition of Jesus Calling that makes a gorgeous gift for someone who might be seeking a new perspective for a new year. It’s the same Jesus Calling daily devotional that has inspired over 25 million readers, now updated with a lovely fabric cover and eye-catching foil with feminine floral touches. This elegant new version also features large text and written-out scripture verses with each passage.
For more information about this stunning new edition of Jesus Calling, visit JesusCalling.com/Botanical. That’s JesusCalling.com/botanical. Now, let’s get back to the second half of our program.
Narrator: We welcome back Jeff Hostetler to the podcast for the continuation of his amazing story. Jeff led the New York Giants to their win in Super Bowl XXV some 1 ½ months after starting quarterback Phil Simms went out for the season with a broken foot. Jeff was a guest on the podcast last year, and talked about growing up in a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania, the faith that his parents demonstrated to him at a young age, and his unlikely road to the NFL. Now, Jeff tells us about his rocky start in the league, the family crises he endured during that time, and how he was able to realize the purpose for years of hard waiting as he learned to trust God’s timing in his life.
Finding Worth Apart from the Football Field
Jeff Hostetler: My NFL career didn’t start out as I would have liked, and there was a lot of frustration. I didn’t see the playing field my first year at all. The second year I came in, was just looking for a way to get on the field to try to do anything that I could. I ended up being behind a starter that was his first year full time starting, my first year coming into the league. He played well. He played really well.
And so, there was this sense of not knowing if I was ever going to get an opportunity, when it would come, the pressure of it to see how you play the game, the speed of the game. All these things were big jumps from college into the NFL. And so there were doubts that creep into your mind when you don’t get an opportunity to step out onto the field. You wonder, “Can I do this?” If you don’t have an opportunity to do it, you can’t prove it to yourself or to others.
So, lots of times in the NFL, your worth is based on your performance. And so, when you don’t have an opportunity to perform, it’s a struggle trying to maintain what you feel like your worth is, and it’s one of the things that I think, faith wise, helped me get through that time because I realized that my worth wasn’t based on my performance out on the field.
“Lots of times in the NFL, your worth is based on your performance. And so, when you don’t have an opportunity to perform, it’s a struggle trying to maintain what you feel like your worth is.” – Jeff Hostetler
That’s a tough thing to be able to handle in that. I know why God had me in the NFL, I know why He had me in football. If you look at my Bible, my Bible is outlined, underlined, pages turned down, and all those times were during football. Those were the times when my heart was struggling and I needed to know that God had me and that He had a plan for me.
“My heart was struggling and I needed to know that God had me and that He had a plan for me.” – Jeff Hostetler
I go through that at times, and look and see the pain at times, the hope at times, just through those highlights or underlines. I know God had me there for that reason. He was teaching me a lot of things. He taught me about patience.
“God, why do you have me here?”
My faith, I think, is a constant part of my life. It is interwoven into my life and through all my football playing days because football has so many ups and downs. One of the things as a quarterback that you have to learn is to try to stay even keeled. As a Christian, that’s what you want to try to do: not let your highs be too high and your lows too low, and to always be a constant.
“As a Christian, that’s what you want to try to do: not let your highs be too high and your lows too low, and to always be a constant.” – Jeff Hostetler
I never dreamed that I would wait six and a half years for an opportunity to play in the NFL. Now, six and a half years, you think about it, that’s a long time. Where were you six and a half years ago? What were you doing? Physically, what difference were you then compared to now?
All those things happened to me, and there was this constant struggle in my career as far as, how will I ever be looked at successfully as a player if I never get an opportunity to step out on the field? There was a lot of frustration wondering, “God, why do you have me here? Is this the place for me?” And through those times, being in His Word, it got me through those.
During this six and a half years of struggle with my career, I also had my first son. He was less than 24 hours old when he had his first heart surgery. Two weeks later, he had his second heart surgery. At 5 months, he had his third surgery. At 11 months, he had his fourth major surgery.
And so, I have this career path that’s really struggling, and then I have this personal family path that’s really struggling. I can remember at that time thinking, “Prayer.” I can remember going out to the back of my house in New Jersey after hearing that we would check my son’s statistics and vitals, and trying to figure out whether he was going to need another surgery or not. Each time that we would check, the news just seemed to be one bad piece of news after another.
I can remember going out in the back deck and just sort of yelling at God saying, “God, you tell me if I have the faith of a mustard seed . . . I’ve been praying for the faith of a mustard seed, all right? I pray for that and pray for that, and yet you don’t hear me, and my son continues to have all these issues that are going on.”
At that time, doctors, they’re protecting themselves, so there’s no hope. They don’t give hope. We were just looking for hope. I can remember really losing what I felt was the power of prayer. I was wondering. I questioned, “What good is prayer? God, you’re going to do what you want to do no matter what I ask, what I do. You’re going to do what you’re going to do.”
And so, I had this struggle with a career and with my family, and wondering about prayer. It was hitting me at my core. Grew up always believing that, and here I am in that position and wondering, “Where are you?” All right?
So, I made it through that period of time. Every six months, my son would get checked. At 11 months was his last surgery. So as time continued to go on, I never lost the doubt.
I believed God was there, but as far as my communications with Him in prayer, I just didn’t have that belief anymore. It really hit me.
And then, he was 7 years old, and I was sitting in the doctor’s office. He had just gone through a round of tests, and the doctor came in.
He sat down and said, “Jason’s doing really well. If Jason was in a room with a hundred other kids with the same issue, and he was in there with a hundred other doctors, they would say unanimously, ‘What’s he doing here? Why is he here?’ Because he looks so good.” And the doctor looked at me and he said, “Jeff,” he said, “You know, he’s a miracle.”
God’s Timing Leads to the Super Bowl
Narrator: Despite challenges in his career and crises in his family, Jeff persevered and found himself coming into his own professionally, leading up to a career-defining moment that could only come in God’s timing.
Jeff Hostetler: So, the seventh year of my career, we came into the season. I was the backup at the time, and played real well during the preseason. So I felt really good about that and felt like I deserved an opportunity to play, and even had the head coach at that time tell me that I deserved to see the field to play. But, I was also behind a guy that was playing really, really well.
And so, I didn’t know if I was going to have any opportunities or not, but I felt better as to where I was professionally. And then all of a sudden . . . I think it was somewhere around the third or fourth game of the season. Phil Simms was the starter. He went down. I came in and we ended up winning a game. We were down 19 to 10 with five minutes left in the game, and was able to bring us back and win the game with the last second field goal. And so, it was an awesome opportunity for me to go out and show and do something that I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity.
About two, three weeks later, out of the blue, we’re in the middle of a game. Simms is fine, he’s playing. And Parcells yelled out, “Hostetler, you’re in.” He was testing me. This was during a game where the outcome was not decided, and it gave me the opportunity. Came in, Phil wasn’t hurt, went in, we drove a field, I scored on a scramble. It gave me a lot of confidence because I knew the guys around me all believed that I could play, and my head coach believed that I could play. He was testing me and he put me in, and I passed.
I thought, “Things are looking up.” I didn’t realize that, that was going to be the last time I was going to step on the field for quite a while. Through that time, having that taste of being on the field and being able to go out and perform, it was tough to go back to not playing again. Through the game, after game, after game, I didn’t see the field and I got really, really frustrated. I think six and a half years of that just finally came out.
It was a night after practice. I think it was on a Wednesday night. Came home, sat down with my wife at the dinner table. We were clearing the table afterwards and I just told her, “Babe, at the end of the year, I’m done. I can’t do it anymore.” I said, “I’m just too frustrated.” I said, “Let’s go back home and I’ll make things work, and I’ll figure out something to do.”
She was all for it because she saw the frustration in me. Six and a half years, that’s a long time to give it a chance. Well that week, that Sunday, Phil Simms went down, got hurt, and six weeks later, I was standing at the podium having just won the Super Bowl. So, it’s pretty amazing how God can take your lowest point when you’ve finished and you’ve said, “That’s it,” and say, “Hey, just hold on,” and take you from the bottom to the peak. It’s pretty amazing.
“It’s pretty amazing how God can take your lowest point when you’ve finished and you’ve said, ‘That’s it,’ and say, ‘Hey, just hold on,’ and take you from the bottom to the peak.” – Jeff Hostetler
Learning to Lead by Example
I was never real bold. I was never real bold as a kid. I was really shy, very reserved and kept to myself. So again, I look back and I see what God’s taken me from and what He’s produced through football, because as a quarterback, I can’t be shy, and reserved, and held back. You’re supposed to be a leader and you have to do things a certain way, and you have to present a certain attitude and presence. That’s contrary to being someone that’s shy and reserved.
So the Lord taught me a lot of things through football. Those things were able to help me to become bolder in who I am. I at times, without having to speak, let my actions speak.
I think I had at one point, one of the greatest compliments from Lawrence Taylor, who was a linebacker in the Hall of Fame with the Giants, just as tough and mean as they come. After games that we would win at times . . . He had a restaurant and a bar, and he would invite all the guys back to his place just to celebrate the game.
He had some other people there that I really didn’t want to associate with, and I always turned him down. One of the biggest compliments to me was, one time he came back down and he was inviting everybody. He looked at me and he said, “Hoss, I’m not even going to invite you because I know you’re not coming.” He knew what I was about. He knew who I was. It was a compliment to me because there was a respect from a man, top of the football world, and yet respected where I stood as a Christian man.
There were a lot of positives as far as the opportunities to play. When I went to the Raiders, it was probably the greatest group of guys I’ve ever played with. We had probably 30 Christian guys on that team. When you think of the Raiders, you don’t think of that. So, God constantly surprised me as to the people that He would put around me to support and to be part of.
“You’ve Got to Give It to God.”
1998 was my last year. I was going into the off season and I determined that I really didn’t want to get back into it. I was at the Washington Redskins and I didn’t enjoy my time there. I thought, “Well, if there’s another opportunity, I won’t close the door, but I’m not planning on doing it anymore.”
My sons, they were a little older at the time and they were all encouraging me to go because they could understand it more.
And then it was in June of 1999. My son Tyler was 8 years old and he was at a friends house. We didn’t know that . . . His friend was 9, and they had a 6 Wheel Gator, an ATV, and their parents had allowed them to ride it without being supervised.
Tyler was driving and it flipped, landed on him, broke his neck. He was paralyzed from the neck down. We were devastated. It was one of those times where I can remember sitting in the room, and I still see Tyler’s eyes just yelling, “Daddy, daddy, daddy,” and not being able to do anything. I remember being in an intensive care room with my dad and just balling my eyes out because, here I am his dad, I’m supposed to protect him and yet, I failed, and he may never walk again. What am I going to do?
I remember my dad telling me, “Jeff, you gotta give it to God. You just gotta give it to God.” He said, “Whose hands would he be better in?” It was tough because as a dad and as an athlete, you want to be able to control things, and help, and do things to make sure everything’s right, and I couldn’t. To give him up to God and just put him in His hands was really, really tough. But God did amazing things. He’s a true miracle. He would walk in here today and you would never know it. Doctor upon doctor has told me he is a miracle.
“As a dad and as an athlete, you want to be able to control things, and help, and do things to make sure everything’s right, and I couldn’t.” – Jeff Hostetler
And so, God’s used my life playing, my personal life. He’s taken me through all these ups and downs, but the one constant is that He’s always been there. Always been there. He has things in control. When we need Him, He is there. We just need to trust in Him. At times, that’s difficult to do, but He’s proven Himself time in and time out.
That’s what started our Hoss Foundation, the things that we had gone through as a family, and realized how difficult it is on the core family. Not only my wife and I, but the other kids, how difficult it was for them to go through things because when your child’s going through something, your whole focus is on your child, and you’ve got other kids that you kind of leave by the wayside. You don’t leave them by the wayside, but you can only do certain things.
And so, we think about those times and how difficult it was. I see how difficult it is on families when they’re going through things that are similar, and how many families are torn apart. And so, we started a foundation called the Hoss Foundation to try to help those families that are going through something traumatic, as an injury or an illness, so that we can kind of supplement some of the things that are going on, so that they don’t have to worry about those things, so that we can give them the opportunity to be with those that are struggling.
Well, right now we kind of shifted some directions with our Hoss Foundation. We put in a Family Resource Center inside our hospital here at WVU Medicine Children’s. It’s there to be right there with the families so that we can meet some of their needs. We do laundry, we provide food vouchers, we provide educational tools and things like that, any type of financial assistance, that’s available, housing.
So, we’re real involved with that. We started our first fundraiser this year. My connection between athletics and the hospital, I’m trying to encourage that with WVU Athletics, and so, we’re engaging them. The football team’s been coming over to visit on a more regular basis. We’re doing a fundraiser with the head coach and their coaching staff. So, we’re trying to get together and meld those two, athletes and family, and children that are going through difficult times, because it’s a win-win for both.
Each one of them has an impact on the other. For the athletes, it gives them perspective as to, “Hey, that interception really wasn’t that important.” Or, “That loss,” or “that missed tackle,” or “that missed basket, it really doesn’t hold a whole lot of weight in the whole realm of things when I see what this family’s going through.”
And then, on the family side and the kids side, whenever they see these athletes walking in, and that big smile comes on their son or daughter, it’s invaluable. So, trying to meld the two together is a win-win, and they’re doing a real good job here.
Football provided me with an opportunity. Actually, it kind of forced me into having more of a devotional time because it was so tough on me.
Having that, having that have passed and getting into life without football, having a devotional time at times has been a struggle. It’s just trying to find the time. You get so busy and you get going here and there, and with your kids, and this and that. Yet, I know how important it is. So for me, it wasn’t as consistent as it needs to be or needed to be.
One of the greatest things that’s happened to me since the first of the year was Jesus Calling. That devotional. It’s given me the opportunity. It never leaves my kitchen counter because I come out in the morning and there it is. I open it up and try to be consistent in reading. It’s been an awesome instructional guideline for me. It gives me a perspective of what God may be saying to me just on a one to one basis, and how He might verbalize that to me.
It’s a different perspective. But the thing I think that I take away from it the most is there’s so much in there about just “Trusting Me.” The devotional just tells you, as He would say, “Just trust me. Trust me.” As humans, it’s a difficult thing to do because we always want to have our hands on something or we want to control it in one way or another. We feel like we can do it. I want control over what my day is going to look like, who I talk to, what my time schedule is.
At times, you can’t do that. The devotional has been a constant, God just actually talking to me and telling me, “Trust Me.” And then the one I think that sticks out . . . and I can’t remember what day it was, but I was struggling with something. We had just lost a pup. We’re dog lovers. He was an 8-year-old boxer, and we just loved him. It was emotionally devastating. It came out of the blue. I can just remember reading the devotional and it just said, “At those times when you’re struggling in that, just say ‘Help me. Help me Lord. Help me.’”
I can remember at times just, “Help me, Lord.” And it was a constant throughout the day. I felt God’s presence there. So there’s been great day to day tips to continue to think and get your mind right, and trust that God’s got your life in His hands, and He’s got a plan for you. It’s His control.
God’s Got a Plan for You
As a starter, it’s easy when everyday you’re out there and you know that you’re going to be out on the field or out on the court and have the opportunity to play. But as a backup, when you don’t have that opportunity and you don’t know when that’s going to come, it’s difficult.
It’s a teaching time. It’s a time to make you strong. It’s going to strengthen you.God’s got a plan for you. It may not be exactly how you thought it was going to be in your mind, but believe me, it’s a better plan than what you could ever imagine. God’s going to take you to places that you never thought you could be.
“God’s got a plan for you. It may not be exactly how you thought it was going to be in your mind, but believe me, it’s a better plan than what you could ever imagine.” – Jeff Hostetler
Just be consistent, be prepared, be dedicated to it, and know that you’re having an impact. You’re going to have an impact on all your buddies around you because they’re constantly watching you, whether you know it or not. How you react is going to give it a lasting impression on them. It’s going to make a mark. It’s going to leave an imprint.
No, for me, I’m just so blessed. The Lord’s been so good. He’s taken me to places I’ve never dreamed that I would be. He’s provided me with things that I never dreamed that I would ever have: A wife that is my best friend, a family that I grew up with, a background that I would never trade for anything. It’s not been easy. There’s been all these ups and downs, and life threatening situations, and difficult times. And yet, I can honestly say I would never trade any of them because I can see how God has used those and how He has blessed me or others through those things.
I wouldn’t be doing the things that I do today if it weren’t for my mom and dad dragging us out of the house, sometimes by taking an ear and pulling us and saying, “Listen, we’re going to this family. They’re struggling right now. We’re going to go take them some food and some gifts. You’re coming.” And, never wanting to do that. “Come on, Mom.”
It changed me. Remembering who you are and whose you are, it changed me.
Narrator: To learn more about the Hoss Foundation, please visit HossFoundation.org.
Narrator: Coming soon on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we talk with writer and minister Gary Thomas. For many years, Gary’s writing has focused on how to create a sacred marriage with your spouse. He shares that even after 34 years, he and his wife Lisa are still growing in their own marriage.
Gary Thomas: There are different seasons when you’re able to give more care to each other and for us the empty nest years have been a wonderful time of discovering. It’s been frankly a really good season of marriage.