For me, the process of getting drafted, going through the minor leagues, and then making it into the majors felt like I was on somewhat of a fast track. I was drafted in 2011, had my first pro season in 2012, and was then called up to play in the big leagues in 2014. I think the managers took their time calling me up, but at the same time they didn’t want to waste time either. Looking back, I think God gave me that opportunity to be challenged early on, which I’m really thankful for. I was fortunate to be able to accept that challenge and work hard to prove myself as a big leaguer.
With the challenge of competing at the highest level of baseball in front of me, I had to have faith in God’s plan. At the time I was called up, I was only 21. Realizing my dream had come true, I also experienced the pressures that came with performing at that level. I had to rely on my faith in God, which is an ongoing process for me; it hasn’t necessarily become harder, but it hasn’t become easier. I continually have to trust in Him in every moment.
I know baseball is what I’m supposed to be doing. I cling to my faith in Christ while I’m working out, training and competing. Though I know God’s plan will happen no matter what, I work my hardest to show Him I’m willing to make the most of this opportunity and His plan for my life. When I work hard, I’m working hard for God.
My faith in Christ has been a continual journey. I never really had a big “aha” moment. I’m really fortunate to have grown up in the Church, going every Wednesday evening and twice on Sundays. The truth of God’s Word was embedded in my head and heart at an early age. Having said that, it hasn’t always been an easy journey; there have been trials. I’ve been through a lot of challenges that have tested my faith, times when I’ve really and truly had to trust in God on a deeper level, making sure my faith is dialed in. I’ve learned, time and again, how to rely on God. It’s an interesting story and one that’s still being written.
Most of these challenges revolve around the game of baseball. I’ve been called up and sent down a few times and every time I am, my faith is tested. I struggle with thoughts of not being good enough. There are also family hardships. A few years ago, I lost both my grandparents in the same year and that was really hard. And being on the road, away from my family that means so much to me, is also difficult. I miss them a lot.
Then in 2015, I had a scare with cancer. But God always equips me, and honestly, it’s often during these times when my faith is the strongest. When the health scare came, it really didn’t shake me too much. I was more worried about how to tell my family than I was about the results. I knew I was going to be OK. God gave me a huge peace about it from the get-go. I was prepared for whatever He had in store for me.
Of course, I want to be the best player I can be. I want to play for another 20 years and have a successful career, but ultimately, God doesn’t care about that. He calls us to put our pride and personal desires to the side. He cares about me as a person and who I can reach. If that is enhanced through baseball, then great. But if not, I’ll have to find another way to fulfill that duty. God doesn’t care about MVPs, sign-ons or how much money I make. He cares about how we live our lives and who we are touching.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” — Colossians 3:23-24
It’s easy to let your dreams of success drive you and be at the forefront of your mind. As a young kid, all I wanted was to be the best baseball player. But as I’ve become older I realize that I’m truly playing for God.
— Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers pitcher