I told you last time about the vision and the vow. The vision is Jesus, and the vow is that no man shall live for himself. But even with that figured out, I was still feeling pretty confused about how to make that happen within my baseball career. I was struggling, and I was failing, and I just couldn’t put all the pieces into place. But an answer was coming, and as promised, here it is.
In 2006 I was traded to the Colorado Rockies. I had a pretty bad year there as well, so things weren’t improving. I was thinking, “I’m not even going to have to quit baseball. They’re going to fire me. I’m going to get released and I’m going to have to find something else to do.”
But in that off season as I was reading scripture, I saw Mark 12:28-31 with new eyes. And everything changed for me.
Now, I’ve been reading scripture my entire life. Sometimes we read the same scripture so much that we get numb to it. And that’s how I was with Mark 12:28-31. I’d heard it, and I agreed with it, but it really wasn’t alive in me. Not until that day in the off season. I truly believed that no man shall live for himself. I truly wanted to be able to be with people, to serve them and to encourage them. I just didn’t know how to do it as a struggling young pitcher. And then, I read this scripture, and it was as if I’d never heard it before.
In this portion of Mark’s Gospel, we read how the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trick Jesus. They asked Him questions in an effort to get Him to contradict Himself, in order to prove that He wasn’t God. They were focusing on the Law of Moses, to test Jesus’ knowledge and His commitment to it. And the Gospel says:
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I always have said that I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I really do! I passionately pursue God. I talk to Him. I love Him! But what got me that day was, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” As if for the first time, I saw what Jesus was saying, that the two commandments, taken together, are like one single commandment. He doesn’t say, “There are no other commandments greater than these.” He says, “There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Finally, I understood. I am not called to baseball! Baseball is what I’m gifted in, yes. But it is not my calling. My calling is not the same as what I do for a living. When someone asks you about your calling, you don’t say banker. You don’t say teacher. You don’t say baseball player. I did it, and it’s why I was confused! It’s why I felt like a failure.
My job, my gifting, is not my calling. My calling – and yours – is to love my Lord God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and it is to love my neighbor as myself.
Once I understood that, the pieces finally started to fall into place. I still had some learning to do, but it got better when things started to make sense. More on this next time. See you Wednesday.