“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” —Proverbs 17:3
My 2015 postseason with the Mets was a really special time for me. Not only was I playing really well, but my relationship with the Lord was thriving. Each day I would go into the ballpark, grab my lunch, and head into our conference room for a while before stepping onto the field. As I sat down to eat I would open God’s Word and begin to dive into the Proverbs.
Just as with any practice you continually engage in, these Proverbs started to stick in my mind. Walking onto the field for the game, I would replay these verses in my head and experience a great peace about whatever situation I was in. Heading into the batter’s box I would be chewing on what I read that day.
The wild thing is that during that time I hit a series of homers and therefore people kept wanting to interview me after each game. For those seven games I was able to have my heart in a really good place for those interviews. Having God’s Word on my heart in those moments allowed me to intentionally deflect the attention off of myself so that I could see those around me and lift them up.
There’s a difference between deflecting praise because as a Christian you’re supposed to, and deflecting praise with an authentic and thankful heart. The second attitude is much more rewarding and fulfilling than simply going through the motions.
After those games I made a few errors in the World Series. But what was really cool for me to realize was that Jesus loved me just as much in that moment as He did when I was hitting those seven home runs. He loves me when I’m at the mountaintop and He loves me when I’m in the valley—there’s not one moment when He is pouring out less of Himself for me.
But Jesus loves you enough. He doesn’t need you to perform. His love is not dependent on your circumstances, your notoriety, or your success—He loves you for you.
I tend to always think that the harder I work, the better I’ll get. It’s easy to think the harder I work for Jesus, the more He’ll love me but that’s just not true. He couldn’t love me any more than He already does! And It’s in these moments that I experience and understand the truth of His Word.
Baseball is one of those areas for me; I’ve always struggled with finding my identity on the field. But God continues to show me that I am uniquely loved, not because of what the scoreboard reads or what the media says, but because of what Jesus did. No matter what I may be going through, my identity is found in Him.
—Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals second baseman