Baseball may seem like a game - it's really an education. My education began with a little league game. I was 10 years old, and hit a home run in my first game. That was it. I was hooked. Baseball had become my life. I entered a learning process that hasn't stopped.
I have learned so much along the way. In 2000, I was part of the playoffs as a member of the Oakland A's. I learned what the playoffs are all about. I learned about intensity, and the importance of every game along the way. Every game is critical - even those games in April and May that don't seem to have much meaning. I learned what it takes to succeed. I learned that it takes a strong desire; readiness to give everything you have, and a willingness to submit to authority, for the benefit of the team.
That's kind of the way life is too. Every day is important. Every day is critical. We always think we have tomorrow, but there may not be a tomorrow. Every day we have to give everything we have, and every day we have to learn to submit to those in authority over us.
That's the hard part - learning how to submit. We always think we have the answers - that we know what's best. We want to do it our way. But when we refuse to submit to those in authority over us, even those who may not even seem to be nice people, we are the ones who lose. We lose out on the valuable lessons we need to learn.
God teaches us not only through our success, but through our failures as well. Everyone thinks that the life of a professional baseball player is easy. There is no question that I am blessed to be where I am and doing what I am doing, but there have been difficult times along the way. I have had ups and downs. I was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 37th round, even though I had been told I would go in the first 5 rounds. I've had roller coaster years. I've had hot streaks and cold streaks. I was voted Minor League Player of the Year one year and sat on the bench other years.
It's easy to give praise to God when things are going well. It's easy to give praise to God when you've just won the Super Bowl, or the World Series, or the Stanley Cup. But it's hard to thank God when you've lost, or struck out 4 times, or made 2 errors. But it's the same God who loves us still. And everything we do, everything, even if it's strike out or lose, everything is to His glory.
I gave my life to Jesus in a batting cage in 1996. I wish I could say that everything was easy from that point on. It hasn't been. Oh, God is at work in my life, no question. But I've discovered that being a Christian is a lot like playing baseball, and it's a lot like life itself. You make mistakes, and you learn from the mistakes, and you move forward.
It's all an education - baseball is - life is - being a believer is. In fact, that's why Jesus asks us to be - He calls us to be disciples, and the word itself means a learner.
That's me. I'm a learner. I'm learning how to play baseball, still, even at the level I'm at. I'm learning how to grow as a man. And I'm learning how to be a follower of Jesus Christ, who loved me enough to give Himself for me - and that's the most important lesson of all.
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