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THE INCREASE: Right Here, Right Now – JJ Hoover

I got off to a really good start this year. I made the Diamondbacks right out of camp, which was my goal. I absolutely loved the team. It was incredibly refreshing to be part of a new organization. Knowing I needed to come out on day one of the season ready to go, I gave it my all from the get-go. But soon I hit a rough patch.

I knew what the problem was. There was a weakness in my arm. Focused on strengthening, I found myself on the DL for the first time in my life. My coaches knew I wasn’t really hurt, but placed me there to give me the space and time I needed to get healthy. Though I had a goal to never be placed on the DL, I didn’t see this as a setback, but as an avenue to get stronger. Instead of being discouraged, I was thanking God I didn’t have a major injury. Being on the DL made me want to work harder than I ever had before; it was a reset button for me. Then when one of our pitchers got injured after the All-Star break, I was called back up. But after pitching a few games — some good, some not-so-good — I was sent down to Triple-A.

That is not where I want to be, but it’s where God wants me right now and I’m OK with that.

After going through a series of ups and downs within the last year, which really caused me to grow in my personal walk with the Lord, I’ve been able to see how God can use me in whatever situation I’m in for His glory. Now I’m completely open to seeing how He can use my life to reach others. I’ve never been a talkative person, but I’ve been trying to be more open to communicating and interacting with people.

For instance, I’ve seen how God can show up through my willingness to converse with people on planes about my faith when I don’t choose to tune out to movies, books, or TV shows to pass the time. I’ve been amazed by the opportunities in which He’s allowed me to share my testimony and faith with other players in low-A during my rehab assignments on the East Coast. Since I’ve been in the big leagues for a while now, I’ve been able to answer questions younger players ask me from both a baseball and a faith-based standpoint. I’ve been able to be there for them in ways that I would never have been able to had I stayed in the major league the entire season.

God’s Word talks about quieting your life enough to hear the still, small whisper of the Holy Spirit. The more I experience how to listen to God’s voice — the more I intentionally take time to step away from the craziness of the world around me — the more I’m able to realize God has me exactly where He wants me to be right now. Even if that means I’m not where want to be right now. I trust God with this truth. I have faith in the fact that His plan is substantially greater than mine. Because of what I’ve experienced God bring me through, my faith today is substantially greater than it used to be.

Faith comes with the strength of a building relationship. I’m more confident today than I ever have, both in who I am as an individual and as a follower of Christ. I’m still not a big talker, but I’m more willing to share my faith with others. I’m more open to do whatever God is asking me to do in each moment, constantly looking for opportunities to further His name instead of my own cause.

— JJ Hoover