Let’s face it. We are living in a very weird time. People are meeting for coffee on Zoom, wearing masks inside the grocery store, and on Easter Sunday everyone attended church online. This pandemic has crippled some with anxiety and many are wondering if there is any end in sight. I admit that when all of this started, I thought it was overblown and that people were reacting in fear. I didn’t know of anyone personally that had been affected by the virus and I wrote it off as getting a bad case of the flu. Then things weren’t getting better. Hospitals were getting slammed with sick people, the stock market took a huge hit and stores deemed non-essential were forced to close. Things got serious real quick.
When put in a stressful situation people have a fight or flight response. It’s the choice we make when things start to crumble right in front of our eyes. A few years ago, the Giants brought in a motivational speaker named Tom Chaby during Spring Training. The dude was a commander with the Navy Seals and then some. He’s basically a bad-ass that could kill any of us in the room with his stare alone. He taught us that we can look at any situation as a challenge or a threat. He summed it up as “C or T”. It really changed the way that I looked at things and allowed me to slow down and put things into perspective before I rushed into making an emotional decision.
Right now, we are in the midst of a very difficult time and we all have the choice to either run to God or go the opposite way and blame Him for what is going on. What do you think God is up to in all of this? Yes, I believe that God is allowing all of this to happen for a reason. He created the world in six days so you know He can put an end to this whenever He wants. I believe God is calling out to each one of us and wants our attention. He wants to spend time with you, and this is a wake-up call. I have gone through many trials in my life and I wish I could say that I always ran to Him, but I didn’t. I am not proud of some of the things I am going to share with you, but I hope this part of my testimony helps one of you today.
Turning My Back on God
In the summer of 1997, I was a struggling minor league baseball player. I signed a contract to play for a team in Lynn, Massachusetts and attended their spring training. A few weeks later I was released, but I quickly received an opportunity to try out for a team in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. After a long plane flight and longer bus ride I showed up in Canada with a sore elbow and frustrated mind set. I was thankful for the opportunity, but I really felt like I earned a place on the Lynn roster. My arm felt like it was dead and my throws to second base no longer looked like a frozen rope your that momma could hang her laundry on. Within two weeks I was released again and searching for a new place to play.
Within a few days I was headed 400 miles due west to Brandon, Manitoba to play for the Western Manitoba Wranglers. They kept me on a practice squad for a couple of weeks and eventually after persistence on my end, they gave me a roster spot. This didn’t last very long as they only gave me three games to prove my worth. I went 0-5 in those games and was released after I blew up on the field during a practice. I felt like they were jerking me around, I missed my girlfriend back home, and I was an emotional mess. I decided to hang up my spikes for the season and go home. What I walked into was even worse than what I was dealing with in Canada.
I assumed when I got back, I would get a job, hang out with my friends and be consoled in the loving arms of my girl. Little did I know that while I was gone, she decided to start talking with her ex. Things ended up not working out with the two of us and after we broke up I made the worst mistake of my life. I met up with one of my best friends and we went to a party. By the end of the night I was absolutely smashed drunk, half naked (I still was wearing jeans), and decided to take a walk. I ended up in a dead end both figuratively and literally. I looked up to the sky I started screaming at God. I told Him that I didn’t need Him anymore and that I was the one set of footprints in the sand when times got tough. I renounced my faith in Him and turned back towards the party to get more hammered. My time with Him was done.
My Saving Grace
Up to this point in my life I was always known by my friends as a man who loved God and people looked at me as a good example of a Christian. After this incident I stopped attending church and got a job waiting tables at Garcia’s Mexican restaurant. About two months had gone by and then one day a group of teenagers from my church came there for dinner and were seated in my section. I served in the teen ministry and they kept asking where I had been. I didn’t say much, but they kept persisting and encouraging me to come back. Then one of them took it to another level and started to follow me around the restaurant. He even went back into the kitchen when I was picking up food for other tables. Their persistence was exhausting, so I finally agreed to come back to church and the teen meeting afterwards.
When I walked back in the church that next Sunday evening I was flooded with emotions. The teenagers engulfed me with welcoming hugs, and we had a blast at the meeting that night. As I drove home, I realized what a huge mistake I made, and I asked God to forgive me. What I had done was inexcusable, irresponsible and showed great spiritual immaturity. I realized that I had tried to lead the way and was stubborn to give Him control of my life. Part of me wondered if I even deserved forgiveness. If I was God and some drunk punk that I created was yelling and blaming me for his own mistakes I would have probably lit him up with a lightning bolt the size of an aircraft carrier. Instead He forgave me and brought me back into His family with loving arms.
Instead of running to God when times were overwhelming in my life, I ran away from Him. It was a moment of weakness and that decision could have ruined my life forever. This experience gave me perspective on all the events that have happened in my life ever since that terrible night. God used a group of pimple faced teenagers to draw me back in and then showed me what family really is. Times are really tough right now. You might be out of work, low on funds and wondering where the heck God is during all of this. Believe me when I tell you that He is still in control and He hears your prayers. Use this time to draw closer to your family and spend more quiet time with Him. It is in those quiet moments when you will hear his voice. Run to God my friends, run to Him.
“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength: they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will RUN and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”Isaiah 40:29-31, NASB
Here are some things to think about and apply to your life this week:
- Use this time of your life to draw closer to God.
- Get on a bible reading plan or just commit to reading the bible every morning before you start your day.
- Get quiet, self-reflect and ask God for forgiveness of any past sins.
- Reach out to a struggling family member or friend who could use encouragement.
- Intercede and pray for others.
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