You've watched me compete on the baseball field, and baseball has certainly been an important part of my life. But there is something much more important that makes my life meaningful.
As long as I can remember, I've been playing some sort of sport. My dad started tossing a ball to me when I was 13 months old. My family was a close one, and an important part of our life was going to church on Sundays. I enjoyed it, until one day when I was 12 years old my mother died of leukemia.
That was a very upsetting experience. I couldn't understand why a loving God would take away someone who was so dear to me. Because of the loss of my mother, I stopped going to church and refused to let God have any part of my life.
Number One in my life...
At that point, sports became a substitute for my mother. Two days after she died, I pitched a no-hitter in little league ball. I did it for her. Everyday I played sports -- basketball, football or baseball, whatever was in season. Football was probably my number one sport until I tore ligaments in my right knee. The doctor suggested I give up thoughts of college football because another injury to that knee would probably end my athletic career. So that's why I chose to play baseball full time, because I thought there would be less chance of injury, and I could start my career early.
When I graduated from high school, I was drafted by the Montreal Expos. After a year of rookie ball, I went to my first major league training camp and my roommate that spring was John Boccabella.
John was a catcher like myself. He'd had a lot of major league experience and he taught me a lot. But the thing that stands out most about him, that has affected me more than anything else I've learned in baseball, was that John was a Christian. And he wasn't afraid to tell me about it.
During our time together, John gave me some books to read. One was "They Call Me Coach" by John Wooden, probably the greatest basketball coach of all time. Here was a man I greatly respected and he made it clear to me that he, too, was a Christian.
Through John, I learned what it really meant to be a Christian. I saw that God didn't hate me or have anything against me. On the contrary, He loved me very much. When I understood that, I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life.
I've since learned that there are many other professional athletes who are Christians. Each year, my wife and I attend a training conference with other football and baseball players to learn more about the Christian life. These meetings have encouraged me to keep Jesus Christ number one in my life.
Along with other pro athletes, these are some of the things that concern me. When I look around me, I see some serious problems that aren't being solved. For example, one out of every two marriages is ending in divorce. Or alcohol abuse -- more than one million teenagers have serious drinking problems. Or the use of drugs -- nearly half of all teenagers have tried marijuana.
These things bother me because I know there's something better. When I became a Christian by accepting Christ, everything took on new meaning, even the disappointments in life. I didn't have to run away from my problems because I now had the power to face up to my problems and solve them.
My problem-solver is now the Bible. That is the book that tells me what God wants me to know. Let me give you a couple of thoughts from the Bible to think about. First, the Bible says, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Let me point out two things in that verse. First, God lives you. And He proved how much He loves you by bringing His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for your sins and mine. Second, if anyone believes in Jesus Christ-- that means you put your whole trust in Him and accept His payment for your sins -- that person will have eternal life with God after he dies physically.
The other Bible verse I'd like for you to think about is when Jesus Christ says, "Behold, I stand at the door (of your life) and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him (be his friend) and he with Me."
A New Person
Know that Jesus Christ is willing to come into your life, to forgive you of your sins and to make you a new person. But He won't come in unless you let Him. He is knocking on the door of your life, but until you open the door and let Him come in, nothing will happen.
If you would like to know more about Jesus and what He can do for you, just click the button on the left side of your screen to change your life.