We all have things that distract us from God. For me, baseball can easily become that distraction.
In moments when my pitching is off, I’m injured, or stressed about a game, I realize that baseball is acting as an idol in my life. God gave me this platform not to idolize it, but to use it as a vessel for Him. When I lay down at night and begin to stress about anything, I feel foolish. I realize just how much focus and effort I’m putting into my own personal desires and gains in baseball. My life is not about that.
We all struggle with pride. At the end of the day, we all want to look in the mirror and be proud of the person we’ve become. At the end of each game, I want to know my hard work has not been in vain and I’m able to pitch well. But if I’m not doing this for God, it’s all for nothing. We are only here on Earth for a small snippet of time; I want my time to be dialed into playing and living for God’s glory, with the understanding that this game is His, my abilities are His, I am His. My life is not about winning a World Series or MVP title; if that does happen, then glory to God! But I don’t want to be distracted and miss an opportunity to serve God according to His plan.
I constantly need to check myself and ask, “What am I doing this for?”
Though baseball can become an idol, I am not going to fast from it. I’m not going to give it up unless God clearly tells me to. The way for me to keep this passion and career of mine from becoming more than it should be is to stay faithful in God’s Word. Anytime I become lackadaisical in my reading, writing and prayer time with the Lord, that’s when my focus ends up falling on myself — who I am as a performer instead of who I am in Christ. Just like I do when I train for baseball, I need to train my heart and mind to be ready to play for God.
This determination for endurance in faith didn’t really click for me with full confidence until recently. I used to read God’s Word out of duty, quickly squeezing in 10 minutes of reading before I’d move onto something else. I easily fell victim to my own “needs.” But over the past few months, God’s been grabbing my attention. Now when I read, I don’t want to stop! If I am reading and realize I need to go to the field for practice, I hesitate to put God’s Word down because it’s filling me up so much spiritually. The Holy Spirit has finally taken reign in my heart. Instead of pushing back from the Lord’s pull for my heart, finally I have laid down and let it take hold of me.
Christ has become my No. 1 priority. Where I once was so consumed with my performance, I’m now consumed by His presence.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” — Psalm 139:7-10
— Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers pitcher
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.