When I left off last time, I was pitching for the Royals and living in a spiritual wilderness. During that year, someone handed me a book called The Vision and the Vow by Pete Greig, the guy who started a 24-7 prayer movement in Europe. The book has its roots in Greig’s seminary days, when someone asked him, “What is the vision?” Greig said, “The vision is Jesus,” and then he wrote a long poem about it on a coffee house wall.
I really enjoyed this book. I was saying, “This guy’s figured it out, man. This is great!” But I was still trying to figure out how I was going to use baseball to go into the world and preach the Gospel. As a baseball player, how could I promote the vision of Jesus? Baseball, as you know, is a very selfish sport.
I have to take the mound. There’s no one to pitch for me. I have to throw the ball because the game doesn’t start until I do. If the ball is hit, as long as it’s not hit to me, I have no control over it. But until that point, it’s all on me. Baseball is a selfish sport. It’s all about me, and it’s all about me succeeding. And if I don’t cut it, I’m out. No one is going to feel bad for me.
So there I was, working a job that’s pretty much all about me. It’s all about promoting me. It’s all about me putting up numbers. So when someone said, “What is the vision,” and Pete Greig said, “Jesus,” it created a conflict. I connected with that because I truly believe it. I truly believe Jesus is It. But I was also trying to start my career, which pushed me to focus on myself.
Surely you’ve been through this, or something like it. When you start a job, you’re trying to do something for you. You’re trying to do your job well, and you focus on that. Whether you’re a teacher, or a businessman, a banker, or any other professional, you’re trying to do your job really, really well. In this sense, baseball is no different than any other profession.
So I was battling some thoughts. I wanted to quit baseball, and yet I was not called to be a pastor. I wasn’t called to be a missionary, either, at least at that time I didn’t feel the call.
I really couldn’t connect the dots.
Then I read in Greig’s book about the vow. Greig writes about a guy named Count Zinzendorf, who lived in the 1600s. Count Z. made a vow when he was in college, along with a group of like-minded friends. They said, “No man shall live for himself.” Then they vowed to dedicate their lives to other people. Zinzendorf was a wealthy guy who had a lot of land, and he dedicated his life to helping other people.
I still remember the day I read that. My heart connected right away. I said, “That’s what I want to do. I want to spend my life helping other people.” But I truly believed that I was called to be a major league athlete. So how was I going to get to a point where I could say, “No man shall live for himself?” How was I supposed to get to that point, when my job is all about me? If it’s true that no man shall live for himself, then why was I called to play a selfish game? I just didn’t understand.
I remember this so well. I said, “God, show me. What do you mean that no man shall live for himself? Do I need to quit baseball? Help me find my path, because I don’t understand why I don’t have joy in this game. I found a job that you’ve blessed me in, but I don’t understand what I need to do with it. Help me understand.” And this went on for a few years.
I got the answer. Next time, I’ll tell you what it is. See you Saturday.