Footy fanatic’s unusual lifestyle
“What I truly believe affects the way I live,” says Will
He may seem like a typical 27-year-old footy fanatic but Will Chodakowsky lives an unusual lifestyle because he has seen the harmful effects of pushing the limits.
Will watched some of his mates getting into drugs, partying hard and sleeping around with girls from the start of high school, but the decision he made as a young teenager stopped him from going down the same path.
"I often questioned why these things just didn't feel right to me but, looking back now, I can see that God was guiding and protecting me from making bad decisions and having to suffer the consequences," Will says.
"Standing firm in my convictions has also saved me from so many harmful addictions."
He remembers back to one particular moment at a selection night after footy training, when a stripper was hired without his knowledge.
"I knew I had to go outside and not take part in things and to my surprise some of the other boys joined me because they respected my belief in God, my convictions and the fact that I was not willing to compromise," he recalls.
"I know I don't need to succumb to what society likes or the desires of men because these things are damaging whether we realise it or not."
Yet, Will says his actions are "not something of a guilt trip" but instead come from a grateful heart.
"I want to lead a life that is set apart and dedicated to God," he says.
He was taught good morals from his Christian parents growing up but, when his mates began to question him about his reasons for living so differently, Will knew he had to search for answers himself.
"I started investigating the Bible and realised that I needed to figure out what I truly believed because it affected the way I lived. I wondered if God really existed, whether to believe that Jesus really was God and if He did die for me on the cross," he recalls.
"I also thought about the stuff that had happened in my life and I could not deny seeing evidence of God in it, I had seen so many prayers answered and had this overwhelming feeling of being protected in some circumstances."
After being challenged at church and later speaking to his dad about his faith, Will knew he wanted to commit his life to following Jesus.
Yet it was only after he met with his pastor at age 13, to discuss being baptised as a public declaration of his faith, that he realised "doing good deeds" was not what would earn him a place in heaven.
"The pastor explained to me that there was nothing I could do to gain eternal life, it was only through Jesus' sacrifice that my sin could be dealt with. I knew I needed to trust in Jesus and not my own efforts to be saved, and if He died for me, how could I not live to honour Him?" he says. "I had this sudden realisation that I did not just want to become a man, I wanted to become a man of God."
After making a commitment to Jesus, Will wanted to stand strong against peer-pressure but admits he struggled with the temptation of available drugs, alcohol, sex and pornography surrounding him.
"At one stage I felt like just giving up but God challenged me saying: 'Are you going to follow me or follow them?' I took that challenge on board and it shaped my character," he says.
Will and his best friend made a pact to hold each other accountable for their actions and began to meet regularly to specifically discuss their struggles and pray for strength to get through them.
"We wanted to know what it truly means to follow Jesus and were encouraged when we saw so many of our prayers answered," he says.
"I still make mistakes sometimes but I'm glad to know that God forgives me and guides me to make better decisions in the future."
While a lot of people see the Bible as a list of 'do's and dont's', Will likens it to obeying speed limits, which are "there to keep us safe".
"If you go beyond the speed limit you not only put yourself in danger but others as well; your situation can easily get out of control. The Bible is not there to punish us for doing wrong, it is there to show us a way of life that is beneficial not only to ourselves but to others. It teaches us to love, to put others first and it sets people free by bringing comfort, advice, peace and, ultimately, eternal life."