I was a sinner, and apart from Christ was completely lost and headed for eternal, just damnation for my crimes against an incredibly Holy God. But God loved me so much He sent His Son to ransom me by laying His perfect life down—the spotless lamb slaughtered for me—not because of how awesome I was, but in spite of how gross of a sinner I was. And He did this so I could receive by faith eternal life and fellowship with the Living God, honoring and glorifying Him forever. God not only gave me the grace to be saved in the past, but He also continues to save me every day and gives me the grace to pursue Him now and tomorrow and forever. If all of this is true for me, and true for you, then how can we not do so much more with our lives than just pursue the same vanities as the world?
Four weeks ago, I completed my last baseball season ever. Up until a year and a half ago, I had plans to play professional baseball, but I discovered that the Lord had more for me. God gave me a burden for people in other lands who have never heard of Jesus, and after a missions trip last summer I decided that rather than play ball, I was going to pursue taking the gospel to those people.
I decided to play my senior season, though, and I am extremely glad I did. I earned first-team all conference honors, and my team became the first team in CSUB history to make a regional appearance. In the Lord’s providence, I started our first game of the regional against #1 UCLA on ESPN 2. My prayer before the game was this: “Lord, make your name great tonight. Allow me to compete and honor you, that You may receive all the glory.” I don’t disclose this prayer to highlight any kind of personal piety on my behalf, but rather to display God’s faithfulness. We ended up losing the game, and I got taken out in the 6th inning after I took a line drive off the chest (yes, you read that right). I walked off the field to a standing ovation from both CSUB and UCLA fans, and my heart became full of gratitude to our Lord for the opportunities He afforded me through the beautiful game over my career. What I didn’t know was going on as I was walking off the field is the most awesome part of it all.
After the game, I checked my phone and it was lit up with notifications of all kinds; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Everyone was excited for me, but not because of baseball. On national TV, they talked about my wanting to enter the ministry (ESPN knows everything) rather than play pro baseball, something I really did not expect to attract attention in the world we live in today. People messaged me telling me how encouraged they were to hear ESPN talking about God, even in an indirect way, and how they were reminded that there is so much more to this life than what the world offers. My former advisor called me a few days later and told me that as the announcers talked about my wanting to enter the ministry, the cameras were locked onto me as I hugged my teammates and soaked up my last moments as a baseball player. “You looked like you were enjoying God’s grace, even in the midst of losing the game. God was honored,” he said. And I was humbled.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” –Jim Elliott
But this story isn’t unique. C.T. Studd was one of the world’s best cricketers in the 19th century when one day he decided to leave all his riches to be a missionary in China. When young men around the world heard of his story, they followed suit and a missions movement was started. Many have given up so much more than me to pursue God’s glory, but that’s exactly what we are called to do. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) We are called to be uncommon—lights in the midst of a dark world. We’re called to say “no” when the world says “yes”, and “yes” when the world says “no”. We’re called to preach the word with our mouths, and live it out in our lives. Our lives should be as windows to the world, so when unbelievers look into them, they see the God who saved us. So be encouraged that the world is watching—both believers and unbelievers alike—and it takes notice when our lives match our words. Preach the gospel so zealously with your lips, that your body has no choice but to take action. The world, as well as the youth God has placed under you in your ministry will notice. Therefore, let us be able to say to those around us as Paul said to the church in Corinth—“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)
Grace and peace to you in your ministry.
-Written by Guest Blogger