I reached a point in rehab this past season when I realized I really have to focus solely on the task at hand. So for weeks, I put my phone aside and left it at the house as much as I could so I could recenter myself around what is important.
One day during this time, I was in Chicago, headed to one of my favorite cafes — one I always hit when I’m in the city — and I saw a homeless man sitting outside. He was obviously destitute but not asking for anything. I didn’t sit down to have a long conversation with the man, but I did buy an extra coffee to hand to him on my way out. I could tell just by the look in his eyes that he really appreciated it. He wasn’t asking for anything and neither was I, but this interaction — and many more I’ve had like it — helps me throughout my day. It makes me feel like I’m doing something to help others, something outside of baseball.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of homeless and needy people in every city. I’ve often been asked why I will reach out to the one I notice. The answer is because it’s important to me. I think it all started in high school when I went to Atlanta to play summer ball. My mom started encouraging me to pack a bag lunch, to have something in the car with me at all times for when I came across someone in need. I had no money at this time, but this was something I could do to help them. It felt good to share God’s love with someone, even if it was without words. I knew it was a way that I could serve the Lord.
Ever since, this has been something I’m drawn to. And today, whether it’s a gift of money, coffee or a simple conversation with someone who is in need, I really enjoy serving in this manner. It brings a smile to my face to know I can be the hands and feet of Jesus in a small way.
Jesus was generous with His time, and with everything else He had. It’s a big deal to let these people know that you see them, that they’re there. They may feel invisible. I envision Jesus walking down the street and spending time with these people, giving them whatever it was that He had on hand. As the old bracelets used to prompt us, it’s important to think, “What Would Jesus Do?” I don’t think He would place a high priority on many of the things we do today, but He was very proactive in helping those in poverty.
That’s why I want to be as well. Whether we have a lot or a little, we always have something to offer those in need.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” — 1 John 3:17
— 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.