As a youngster growing up in Fenton, Mich., I loved sports. If I wasn't in front of the television watching an athletic event, I was outside playing whatever was in season.
At age 10 I began to excel in baseball and played on several little league all-star teams. I continued to enjoy success throughout high school as a three-year varsity player and as a National Honor Society student, and I eventually received an academic scholarship to Eastern Michigan University.
Even though I was an outstanding athlete, a good student and even my high school's homecoming king, I still felt like something was missing in my life. No matter how hard I tried to fill this void -- through other people of athletics, I always came up feeling empty.
As I entered college I began to experience failure for the first time. In my first year I barely made the baseball team and was the last of 15 pitchers on the roster. My grades started to fall, and my social life plunged to where I couldn't get a second date with any girl.
In the winter of my freshman year, a man from the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry met with our baseball team, and he brought a swimmer along to share how God changed his life through a personnel relationship with Jesus Christ. I wondered, "Could this be what's missing in my life?
As the swimmer continued to share, I knew that what he was talking about was true even though I couldn't figure everything out. After the session I asked the Campus Crusade director to meet with me a week later.
I'll never forget that meeting on Feb. 17, 1980. As we talked he asked me two important questions that I would like you to consider:
"If you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?" I answered, "heaven." Then he asked, "Why would you go to heaven?" I said, "I think I'm basically a good person, I've done good things and I've tried not to hurt others."
He then pointed out to me in the Bible that eternal life in heaven is God's free gift to those who ask Jesus Christ to come into their lives and that we can't earn our way to heaven by being a good person or doing good deeds. (Ephesians 2"8-9) The Bible also says that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. "And there is salvation in to one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
I also discovered these four simple truths from the Bible:
1. We are loved. God loves us unconditionally, and He created us to know Him personally through Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, and whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal, live." (John 3:16)
2. Sin separates us from God. Even though He loves us, we want to things our own way and not God's way. This rebellion against Him is what the Bible calls sin. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:21) "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23)
3. God provided the answer. God doesn't want us to spend eternity separated from Him. That's why He came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to die on the cross and pay the necessary penalty for sin. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous , that He might bring us to God." (f1 Peter 3:18) Christ then conquered death to give us the only hope of eternal life. "Christ died for our sins, He was buried and was raised on the third day according to the scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
4. The choice is ours. If we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, to come into our lives and choose to follow Him, we have the promise of eternal life in heaven as well as abundant life here on earth filled with real joy, peace and the strength to face adversities that come our way. "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved." (Romans 10:9-10)
When I asked Jesus to come into my heart, I submitted my entire life to Him: baseball, relationships, grades, etc. Right away I experienced His love, acceptance and peace, and He truly filled that void that I had experienced. I didn't know exactly what His plan was for my life, but I knew He was the one who blessed me with certain talents, and my desire was to honor Him in everything I did.
During the next two years I moved from 15th to No. 1 on the pitching staff. In my junior year I became the first 10-game winner at Eastern Michigan since Bob Welch and was drafted that summer by the New York Mets. I have played professionally since 1982 and will continue to play as God allows.
God also took care of my relationship needs by blessing me with a beautiful wife and family. Together it's our prayer that you will ask Jesus to come into your life today. He has given our lives meaning and purpose, and He'll do the same for you. "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
If you would like to know more about Jesus and what He can do for you, just click the button on the left side of your screen to change your life.