Becoming a professional baseball player takes a lot of hard work and practice, and I feel very fortunate to be successful at such a high level.
Growing up in south Alabama, I always wanted to play baseball and often thought about how great it would be to make the majors. Occasionally I watched football, but baseball was my life, and that's the sport I excelled in and the one that offered me a promising future.
In high school I was a National Honor Society student and was an all-state performer on the diamond.
I went on to Birmingham-Southern College and garnered all-district and All-Cape Cod League honors in 1993. A year later I became the NAIA's No. 1 baseball prospect and was drafted in the third round by the Oakland A's.
Playing pro baseball has been an incredible experience for me, but I must tell you that the sport I love will never rule my life or become my top priority. The one thing that means more to me than anything else is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He's the One who created me and blessed me with certain talents, and He's also the One who guides my life and holds my future.
As a young person, I was a good preacher's kid. My father was a Methodist minister, and that helped me be accountable at an early age. I knew about Jesus Christ and made a decision to accept Him into my life, but when I went to college I was left to attend a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in 1992. It was there that I began to reevaluate my priorities in life.
What I discovered was that when we place God first in our lives, everything else will work out according to God's plan. The Bible says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
When I put Jesus Christ at the center of my life, He began to open up a lot of doors for me -- not just in baseball, but in many other areas as well. My career is in His hands, and I've come to rely on Him leading my life every step of the way. I can honestly say that living for Jesus Christ has allowed me to experience peace, joy, contentment and strength in every situation.
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