As I look back at this season, I can recognize some really high points, as well as some low ones. The month of June was great. It was the most consistent I have felt in a while as a pro pitcher, and coming off of an injury the year before, it finally felt like I was finding my stride. I was finishing strong as we headed into the All-Star break.
But in that same stretch of time came my lowest point. Yes, I was pitching well, but pitching game after game, I had built up stress in my shoulder, which led to straining my shoulder. I soon found myself on the DL for the next two months. My season ended on the bench.
Nobody wants to be on the DL. Of course, everyone would rather be out competing. But there’s something to be said for having time to rest and hit the reset button. My competitiveness doesn’t welcome it easily, but I try to maintain a healthy perspective as I get my body back to full strength. I’m maximizing this time to study ways in which I can improve my game, strengthen my shoulder, and prevent injury in the future. This time’s also given me the opportunity to spend more intentional time with the Lord — in prayer and in His Word.
Scripture tells us to never stop striving to become like Christ (Colossians 3), and yet it also tells us to rest in God’s care (Matthew 11:28-30). While these two ideas may seem contradictory, they aren’t mutually exclusive; they can and do coexist. We can rest in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty, knowing He loves and cares for us. And we can rest in the fact that He’s working all things for our good and His glory.
With whatever turmoil we feel while striving in our jobs, with stresses at home, or in strained relationships, there’s rest in knowing and believing that God is in control. He’s a good and faithful God. We can work hard, striving to accomplish our goals for His glory, while resting in the knowledge that He’s ultimately in control of it all.
So as we go out there and work hard on the mound, in batting practice, in the gym, while taking grounders, or catching fly balls, we can do so with joy. We don’t have to worry about the results because we know we’re free in Christ (when we have trusted Him as our Lord and our Savior), living out the life He’s created us to live. We can rest in the fact that we’re obeying our Sovereign God, who’s in control of the outcome. If He’s called us to do something, He will give us the strength and ability to accomplish it. Furthermore, He will be with us the whole way.
These are the truths of God’s sovereignty, which cause me to strive harder to be like Christ while resting deeper and peacefully in the rich love He freely gives. His unending power is overwhelming, but in His Word He’s constantly reminding us that He’s for us. He sent His Son Jesus to die for us, expressing His extravagant love for us even when we rejected Him.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You.” — Isaiah 26:3
– Mark Appel
Mark Appel was the number one overall pick by the Houston Astros in 2013. Currently, he’s pitching in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.