I was drafted out of Oregon State University as a senior in 2013, and we were coming off an awesome season, having just won the Pac-12 title. It was the first time our team had been to the World Series since 2007!
Following this victory, I received a call from the Toronto Blue Jays, and by the end of my first season, I had made it to high-A. The next year was split between low-A and high-A until I finally made my major league debut in 2015. That moment was unlike any other. It was amazing — a dream come true. Many years of hard work, trusting in the Lord’s plan, and believing what He had in store for me culminated in me experiencing this special moment. I’ll never forget it. But my journey to make it there wasn’t exactly what I had expected.
I grew up in a Christian home; my mom and dad were believers and I really never knew anything else. I grew up reading the Bible and being raised according to God’s Word. It was awesome and I’m really grateful for this. When I was in high school, even though I may not have been truly seeking God at the time, there were times when I knew He was watching out for me. It wasn’t really until college when my faith became my own and I truly started living for Christ. I finally started listening to God instead of just asking things of Him.
One moment in particular stands out as a defining moment for me in my faith. It was my junior year at Oregon State and I had just completed back-to-back All-American seasons. I had played on Team USA that year and thought I was a surefire draft pick. But that season I started struggling for the first time in my collegiate career. Baseball was becoming my identity — who I was, not just something I did. I started dropping in the draft order and began thinking I was going to just sign somewhere and leave. I was angry about the situation; I wanted a plane ticket out of there so I could just start my career.
I was drafted late that year by the Reds, and soon a deal was agreed upon and I was ready to sign. I had met with my agent, who told me that part of my deal would include the team paying for the last four quarters of school I had left to complete. I had made a promise to my parents that I would finish my degree.
But the next day something was bothering me — something I couldn’t shake. It was the first time I felt uneasy about this, so I prayed, “OK Lord, am I supposed to sign? Make it clear to me if this is not right.” I soon got a call from the Reds saying, “Hey! We’ve got the money amount for you and we have one quarter of school covered.” To which I reminded them that we had agreed on four. He admitted he forgot but said it wouldn’t be a problem. Then the second call came in and he let me know they could only cover one quarter. I began to fight it, but then realized this was God speaking to me — making it clear. I decided not to sign and instead went back to school.
I knew God was leading me in this direction even though it was not my perfect plan. In fact, it was a better plan. Not only was that the moment I truly started trusting the Lord, but that season with Oregon State I saw a few of my teammates come to know Christ, I met my wife, and once again we won a Pac-12 championship, which led me to be drafted even higher. By trusting in the Lord, even though I didn’t fully know what that meant or would result in, I experienced His plan to be way better than my own. This is a lesson I’m still learning today.
The summer I said “no” was a turning point in my faith and, consequently, my career as well. I went into that season with the expectation of playing pro ball, but I also knew that if baseball wasn’t where He wanted me, then He would have something better for me. I had never experienced a peace like that before. His grace was showered upon me and as a result, that was the time I truly started committing my life and plans to the Lord.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” — Proverbs 3:5-6
This truth was hugely influential for me during this turning point in my faith. This is the battle, not just for that day, but for every day. When the questions arise — Am I going to make the squad next season? How do we raise our child? How do we grow in our marriage? What do we do with our finances? Home? Occupation? — we need to trust in God and not our own understanding.
When we submit to Him, He will guide us as He sees fit. When we do, He will fill us up in ways we never could have imagined.
— Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers pitcher