Chris Heaton

Chris Heaton
Diver

     I grew up going to church every once in a while, but I never really took an interest until I was 13. I would go to the youth group and get involved for a while, then just fade out again.
     I was a well-mannered student in high school, had strong morals and was what you would call a “good person.”

I found myself thinking, “Is this it?”

     When I got to college, I started living a more worldly life with drinking, drugs and girls. I was one of the most successful athletes at Miami (Ohio) University, and I thought I had it all. I won my events – the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard dives – in conference all four years of college and was the MAC Conference Diver of the Year four years straight. My senior year, I was celebrating my last win and found myself thinking, “Is this it?” There was no joy in my life, no satisfaction, and that’s when I really started asking questions about what I might be missing to fill the huge void in my heart.
     A girl I was dating invited me to a ministry meeting at Miami. The message was on dating God’s way, and that was not to find the right person to date but to become the right person. That hit me right off the bat; it was the first real conviction I had about my life.
     The same night, I was challenged to go to AIA’s Ultimate Training Camp, and I attended that summer in Colorado. Camp was eye-opening for me. Here I was thinking that Christian athletes were weak and relied on God as a crutch. I was the one being prideful and thinking I did it all.

A new focus: the Olympics

     After hearing the story of Christ’s crucifixion, I felt empty. That’s when I saw Christ in His true beauty, worth and holiness and I realized how amazing it was that He would choose to lavish me with His love. The whole thing came into focus for me: I was a sinner and He chose to save me. I was praying for the first time, really putting my hope in God and admitting that I was running aimlessly with no purpose or goal. I asked Him to forgive me, and that was the moment I gave my life to Christ.
     I came back home with a new focus and decided to train for the Olympics, realizing I could minister to other divers since I knew what they were going through.

A new approach to diving

     Faith has totally changed my approach to diving. It is so incredibly easy in sports to think we’re the only one doing anything, but I’m constantly challenged to focus on Christ and how to glorify Him and not myself. I know it’s not about me. My faith gets me through practice by meditating on His Word, worshipping during practice and singing songs.
     I love Luke 1:37 (“Nothing is impossible with God”) and often write that on my chamois so I can share that with someone or meditate on it during practices. I also love Psalm 105:4, “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” It reminds me that it’s nothing that we do; He is our strength and provides all we need. There should be no stress (in sports) but only rejoicing in His power and strength and knowing all I need to do is seek Him.

Photos courtesy Miami University Athletics