Make a mistake on the mound, and the results are not always good.
Make a mistake in life, and the consequences can be far worse.
I grew up playing baseball. My older brother, Ricky, and I would play anywhere we could in the backyard, in the street. We couldn't get enough. I played Little League and I played in High School. And although I had lots of recruiting inquiries from colleges, I knew what I wanted to do. My heart was set. I signed, as a second round draft choice in 1988, with the Baltimore Orioles.
I climbed quickly through the minors and was called up from AA ball in 1991. My first game was against Texas, and I went five innings and got the win. In 1994, I pitched back to back shutouts, against Minnesota and Milwaukee.
And then I was moved to the bullpen.
Being in the bullpen requires an entirely different mindset. There isn't time or opportunity to set up an approach to the game. Usually, there are runners on and you have to get right to business. I love the bullpen now. I love coming in and throwing my best stuff against good hitters.
Sometimes, I make good pitches and get hit a bloop single or even a line drive. And when that happens, I simply tip my hat to the batter. I did my job the best I could and he did his, and for that one pitch, he beat me. That doesn't bother me.
What does bother me is when I make a mistake, and every pitcher makes a mistake with a pitch at one time or another. A pitch wanders across the center of the plate, or slips into the hitter's strong area. And that bothers me. It bothers me, as a reliever, if I let runs score that are charged to another pitcher. I feel like I've let him down.
But even when I've let someone down when I've made a bad pitch and a run has scored, I can't let it bother me too much. I have to get right back out there and try again.
Mistakes on a baseball field can be painful. But mistakes in life can be tragic. All of us make mistakes. We all do things we shouldn't do, and maybe even don't want to do.
And sometimes, other people pay for the mistakes we make. And that makes us feel awful.
I've learned how to deal with the mistakes I make, on and off the mound. Off the mound, the mistakes I make, I give to Jesus. I just give them to the Lord. And I know they're forgiven. And I don't ever want to do them again, but I also know that I can let go of them, because God has removed them from me.
I have faith in God that I am loved and forgiven. And of all the things I have accomplished on the baseball field, and of all the things that I am proud of, the one thing that means the most to me is Jesus' love for me, and His presence in my life.
My whole family, Leah, my wife, and our new daughter Faith Anabella, trusts in the direction God has for our lives. And we are confident in His love.
Mistakes on the mound can sometimes go flying out of the ballpark.
Mistakes in life are taken care of on a cross, and in an empty tomb.
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