This week, Heaven to the Yeah grace ambassador, Christian Taylor, had the pleasure of speaking with USC’s very own beach volleyball player, Julia Scoles, and her journey to find the light of the Lord in her life and keeping that flame alive each day. This lover of nature, family, friends, pottery, cooking, and trying all things new openly shares her story and how she came to know God and put Him first in her life.
The past four years in Scoles’ life have been filled with a crazy turn of events, but with each twist and turn, she came another step closer to the Lord. Faith has always been a big part in her life, but it was never something she placed at the front of her life or took ownership of to live a life surrendered. “The Bible tells you that you cannot serve two masters. I was in that category before finding Christ and serving him.” After suffering a few head injuries while at Carolina, Scoles found herself in one of her most trying times. She switched to beach volleyball for a lesser chance of injuring herself further, and cried out to God, for she felt this time in her life was mentally, physically, and emotionally difficult. “I lost my identity as a student and as an athlete as I saw my personality change before my eyes. Everything I knew was stripped away and I asked myself, ‘if everything is gone then what is there?’ This pushed me to seek God.”
In feeling God’s presence with her, Scoles found herself moving out to Hawaii to play volleyball, only here she fell into another trying time of isolation and depression. When she felt that she could not do it anymore, she was called to reflect on her faith. Having always had faith in her life, Scoles came to realize she never placed faith first. In this moment, she decided that faith would come first in her life, and she would seek out the Lord’s Word. “There were still difficult and challenging times, but everything in my life changed and I finally felt joy and peace with a knowing of who Christ is.” Finding herself living a daily act of surrender to the Lord and feeling life with God is better than life without God, she can now compete for something bigger than herself with a purpose.
Constantly competing for something bigger than herself is, in and of itself, a motivation of Scoles’ each day. “Now that I am healthy, playing my sport is such a gift from God. I play for the love of the game now.” Scoles continues to explain the nature of competitive sports and how they will test an athlete in all aspects of life. “God uses sport as a tool of sanctification. It has always been a way for me to see where my heart posture is and know that I am here to serve others.” In serving others and inviting God into her sport, Scoles has overcome the challenges of balancing humility over her successes.
“Anyone who has had a goal and achieved it, and hasn’t invited God into that success, has found that goal and achievement to be empty.” Scoles found that she falls in love with the process of working towards her goals. She exclaims that so often people reach their goals and feel empty, as if now they are empty and have nothing left to work towards, or if they fall short then they become discouraged. However, Scoles now claims that she is a process girl who falls in love with the process and effort of achieving that goal, finding it to be better and more fulfilling than successes. In this, and in knowing that we are all human and will have ups and downs, good days and bad days, Scoles continues to stay humble and wake up each morning ready to do her best and work on her next challenge with the Lord by her side.
So long as the Lord is in our sights, He will always bless us with His graces. Scoles encountered this as she navigated through the pandemic while the Grace of God stayed with her and those around her. “There was not one person who went through the pandemic unscathed. People began to place their faith and hope in the world leaders and those people who may fall short on the promises they make rather than placing their faith in God.” For Scoles, the pandemic was a great time to find and have complete faith in the Lord for He shows all good things and makes new beginnings. With her trust in the Lord, Scoles came to see that we are not marked by fear, but by faith and came to see the Grace God gives to his undeserving children.
“I can’t even fathom God’s Grace and how he came to a broken world and willingly died for us and our sins. It is something we don’t deserve but He freely gives, and we have to accept it and see that God loves us to our core.” Scoles continues to explain that in knowing the Lord and His Grace, and the more we look at Jesus, is when our behavior is modified rather than the reverse of trying to earn our way to Heaven. The more we come to know Christ, the more we want to walk in obedience with the Lord. “Sometimes, Grace can be seen as a blanket where people think they can do anything and be okay because God’s Grace is everlasting, but Grace is meant to call you out of your sin and be a new creation for God.”
Before Taylor’s time with Scoles came to an end, she provided the readers, listeners, viewers, and new believers with a few words of encouragement as they come to know the Lord or continue their walk with Him. “[Remember,] the Bible says seek and you will find. Continue to ask the hard questions and read the Word, and obediently make the step of faith. God is Good and he is Real, so keep pursuing the God of the Bible and you will find him.”
The Heaven to the Yeah team thanks Scoles for her time and dedication to sharing her walk with Christ with us. We pray for her and her family and that she finds balance and peace each day.