Saturday, November 19, 2011

Through The Eye Of The Needle

Through The Eye Of The Needle - 10/11/11

The season is over. Who would have thought it would turn out like this? At the beginning of the season, I was hoping for a September call up, but instead was called up in May and missed September on the disabled list! I didn’t think I was going to be able to contribute much at the big league level this year, but I had a 3 1/3 inning, 1 hit, 0 run effort against the Marlins and later a 3 2/3 inning, 3 hit, 1 run effort against the Rangers (one of, if not the, best offensive team in baseball). It was a blast. If you take away my really bad outing against the Minnesota Twins (2 innings, 5 hits, 6 runs, ouch!), I had a very successful short time in the big leagues this year with a 2.95 ERA, 10 hits, 9 strikeouts, 4 walks, 4 runs in 12 2/3 innings. This means that I can pitch and be successful at this level. Now it’s about refinement, experience, execution. This offseason is going to be very important to set up the opportunity to be able to compete at this level again next year. On the to do list: 1. Get my shoulder healthy through rest and then get it strong so that I can perform at the intensity and frequency that I need in the big leagues. 2. Get stronger and more explosive, every little bit counts. When we are talking about missing the sweet spot by mere fractions of an inch, every little advantage becomes huge. 3. Prepare for the season by working on executing my pitches, establishing my presence on the mound, and dominating with my fastball, cutter, and splitter. 

There are great things about being a big leaguer. It’s a great experience to compete against the best of the best, the guys that I have watched on TV for years, and get a few of them out. It’s a little fun when people ask, “So, what do you do for a living?” “I play baseball.” “Oh, yeah? So… College? Minor leagues?” “The Oakland A’s” “Uh… THE Oakland A’s?!” “Yup.” But, it also creates some difficulties. I am now surrounded by wealthy individuals with big contracts, which is interesting for me, as I lived out of a La Quinta for the last month because a one-month lease was really expensive. Luke 18:24-25, “How hard it is for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God! It is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” That sure makes it difficult for us in North America, eh? (according to Global Rich List,, if you make $40,000/year you are wealthier than 96% of the people on earth and 85% of the people on earth earn less than $2,200/year) What do I want to do? I want to try and shove that Camel right through the eye of the needle, be rich AND enter the Kingdom of God. But, anyone who has ever held a sewing needle in your fingers, and then looked at a camel, knows this is impossible. Those that have actually tried to put a camel through the eye of a needle, are even more certain. I am in the process of reading A.W.Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”. It is an amazing book. Reading and talking about it has blessed me. Tozer says, “There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution. Our Lord referred to this tyranny of things when He said to His disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.’” I can’t live as a rich man and get into the kingdom of heaven. It is impossible. And so, I must consider the wealth that I get is not mine. Either Christ is mine, or something else takes His place. It makes it so much easier to give when what I am giving isn’t mine. It is much easier to take care of people in need when I’m not busy taking care of myself. It is much easier to rescue someone else from a terrible future when I am not building my own. “Father, I want to know You, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from You the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that You may enter and dwell there without a rival. Then You will make the place of Your feet glorious. Then my heart will have no need of the sun to shine in it, for You will be the light of it, and there will be no night there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” (A.W. Tozer)

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