Playing professional baseball has been a wonderful experience for me. Not only have I had the opportunity of pitching at the major-league level for many years, but I have also enjoyed a considerable amount of success in my career.
Baseball has always played an important part in my life, and at age 7 I determined that I was going to be everything in my power to become a big-league player.
In 1971 the California Angles made me their No. 1 draft pick, and two years later I realized my childhood dream when I was called up to the majors.
Within five years I became one of the game's top pitchers. In addition to being named American League Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1974, I was an all-star three consecutive years (1976-78) and led the league in strikeouts in 1976. I've also had the honor of leading the league in shutouts and having the lowest earned run average.
Along with these achievements came a ton of money. I had a nice home and a nice car, I ate in all the nice restaurants, and I was also voted Southern California's most eligible bachelor one year.
By the age of 25 I had experienced all the pleasures of this human life -- everything the world had to offer was right at my feet.
Pretty soon the fancy lifestyle grew old and stale, and I became a very lonely man on the inside. I began to ask myself, "Is this all I've got to look foreword to for the rest of my life?"
When you stop to think about it, everything the world has to offer (money, luxuries, fame, etc.) is temporary. All that we own can be destroyed or taken from us or will eventually wear out. Even our bodies won't last, and if death knocks on our door tomorrow (and what guarantee do we have of being alive), what can we take with us.
In my search for contentment, purpose and meaning in life, I began to attend a Bible study where I heard that God loved me and that I could get into heaven by believing in Him. That sounded great as long as I didn't have to give up my wealth and baseball along the way.
After five years of believing in God and going through the motions of reading the Bible and attending church and chapel, I realized that something was wrong. While I discovered that God is the only person who can give us a real purpose for living, I learned that just knowing Him intellectually, sitting in a church pew and reading a Scripture verse or two isn't enough.
I recognized that I needed a personal relationship with God's only Son, Jesus Christ, because the Bible says, "Not every one who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
You see God wasn't a priority in my life at that time, and I really wasn't living for Him. I was living for my own selfish gain, and while I claimed to be a Christian, my Christianity was self-made.
The Bible makes it very clear that we can't get to heaven without Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14:6)