A lot of baseball players have certain rituals they do before games. So do I. Everyday, before games, I start with God. The Lord has been with me through the highs and the lows and my prayers to Him before I take the field is not really that I play well it's to remind myself that God is my top priority and the key to my life.
Hard Work and Faith
I have been blessed with natural talents but getting to the big leagues hasn't been easy. When I was 14 years old, I didn't even start for my high school team. With my Dad's support and encouragement, I learned that I was going to need to work harder to achieve my dream. Every single day, after school, I hit balls. I took that same work ethic to college at the University of Richmond the only big school that recruited me to play baseball. Even after I was drafted, I had to work hard to improve other parts of my game and just hope to get the opportunity to play in the major leagues. I got the opportunity and in 1999, my first full year in Cincinnati, I was fortunate enough to be named to the All-Star team and helped my team to a successful season. But the year didn't start the way I expected it to.
My third year with the Reds, I got hit in the eye by a baseball, fracturing my eye socket, and blinding me. Lying in the hospital, with my wife Mandy at my side, I wondered if I would ever play again. But God gave me strength, and through Him I realized that whatever happened the Lord would help me get through it. I became thankful for simply realizing my goal of playing in the major leagues and put myself in His hands.
God doesn't promise us that our lives will be without obstacles. God's promise is that He will always be with us, strengthen us in His love, and help us to share that love with one another. In baseball and the rest of my life, I try to face each day as it comes and not take for granted the gifts that have been given to me. One of the passages I live by is in Matthew 6:25-34. It's about worry. Whenever I start to worry about things in my life I remind myself of what is truly important to
seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. God will provide me what I need to live. He's already given me more than I could have ever hoped for.
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