As a child growing up in Southern California, I loved sports and participated in football, baseball and swimming. Up until my senior year at Mission Veijo High School, I never really thought about becoming a professional baseball player. I excelled in water polo and had plans to continue in that sport.
At the end of my senior year, I finally experienced baseball success and realized that I could be just as good on the diamond as I was in the pool.
I took my talent to the University of California, San Diego, and in two years I completed a 17-2 record with an earned run average under 2.00. As successful as I was at UCSD, I knew that I wouldn't have a chance at pro ball unless I pitched at a Division 1 school. After playing semipro baseball, I moved up to Long Beach State University and became an All-American following my 15-2 performance as a junior. Then I was drafted in the first round by the California Angels in 1989, and in September 1991, I was called up to the big leagues.
I figured that if I could stay at the major league level, true happiness would follow. I would have money and fame and would be out partying seven nights a week. But the year before I was called up, I realized that no amount of material wealth and personal pleasure could fill the emptiness in my life. I was hurting on the inside, and there were some things happening in my family that I could handle on my own strength.
One night, my wife Kathy and I spent some time with a fellow ballplayer and his wife, and they prayed to bless a meal. Even though it was such a simple thing, it led me to wonder if the God they prayed to was Someone who could help me solve some of my problems. I was compelled to find out. I needed answers, and I wanted them right away.
You know what I discovered? God is the answer, and He filled the void in my life.
A short time later, I played in the Instructional League and began spending time with our chapel leader. Through prayer, Bible study and discussions, I found out that God really loved on Him for strength and encouragement.
I Knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was real because of the authority of His Word (the Bible) and the conviction I had in my heart. Revelation 3:20 says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."
The Lord was knocking on the door of my heart, and I knew I had to respond by asking Him to take control of my life. It wasn't enough for me just to know Him intellectually. I needed to begin a day-by-day relationship with Him which would allow His strength and peace to become evident in my life.
Although I struggled with old habits and fell in my performance after I came to know the Lord, I found comfort from God's Word in 1 Peter 5:7: "Cast all your anxieties on Him, for you." I could still experience real joy and contentment even in the midst of trials if I kept my focus on the Lord.
It would be a great thrill for me to pitch in an all-star game or the World Series, but I can honestly tell you that my greatest desire in life is to serve the Lord in everything I do and make Him known to people just like you. All the rewards for serving Him -- include eternal life in heaven -- are far greater than the temporary happiness and false security that the world offers.
I would like to ask you some questions. Are you experiencing real joy, peace and contentment even during tough times? Does your life have meaning and purpose? Do you know for sure that you'll spend eternity in heaven when you die? If Jesus Christ returned today, would you be ready to meet Him?
If not, I pray you will open your heart and ask Jesus to come into your life.
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