I was planning on writing a post about James McCann. But when J.D. Martinez had an All-Star season I chose to write about him instead. However, the story of James McCann is an incredible one that is definitely worth sharing and so now I will take the opportunity to bring it to your attention. McCann was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Tigers out of the University of Arkansas. He made his debut in September of 2014, making 9 appearances. He then blossomed as the Tigers primary catcher a year ago appearing in 114 games and hitting .264 with 7 home runs, including this gem – his first in the Majors which happened to be an inside-the-park homer hit at Target Field against our local team, the Twins.
He has played in 4 games this season but is currently on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. He may return as soon as tomorrow.
Now the odds of becoming a pro athlete are pretty slim to start with, but McCann’s odds of Major League success were less than most and the challenges began before he was even born. There were complications when McCann’s mom was pregnant with him. Doctors were skeptical that he would survive birth. You can read about it in this article from scout.com. They gave him a 25% chance of surviving without any birth defects or delays.
And now, with baseball as his platform, he has many opportunities to share his story and acknowledge that God is the reason that any of this has come together for him. In fact, as you can read in this article from secrant.com, he understands that without God, he would not be where he is. He says “To God be the glory … First thing, let me tell you, I’m not supposed to be here tonight. The odds were against me ever making it here, much less hitting a walk-off home run. My parents weren’t supposed to have me.”
Now he shares his story and the message of what God has been teaching him. In this article from CampbellsvilleTigers.com, you can read McCann’s message about “protecting, understanding and reproducing“. He shares how God has been protecting him since day one. He also talks about how he “began to understand and feel God’s love, and know that there was nothing he could do here on earth to deserve His Grace; rather it was Christ’s sacrifice that already paid his debts.” And he shares about his desire to “live his life to honor and glorify God in all that he does. Reproducing God’s love, mercy and grace is his mission on Earth.”
Here are my takeaways from McCann’s story:
1- We Shouldn’t Be Here – McCann has a harrowing story of being born from a complication-laden pregnancy. He shares that it is a miracle that he is even alive, let alone able to play and succeed as a major leaguer. In some ways, this is a story that we can relate to as Christians. None of us should be where we are. It is only by the miracle of God’s grace that we can have our sins forgive and our death penalty pardoned. When we begin to realize how Holy God is and how unworthy we are, we find ourselves “undone” like Isaiah did in Isaiah chapter 6 verse 5. We deserve death but Jesus offers us life instead. It is a gift. And like Isaiah, when we see how God welcomes us despite our sinfulness, we respond by our willingness to serve Him wherever He leads us (verse 8). McCann answers this call and shares his story wherever he can because he is aware of the gift that his life is. Christ has offered us the gift of life, too. What will you do with it? How will you use your life to honor Him and point others to Him?
2- Protect, Understand, Reproduce – These were the key points of McCann’s message to those in attendance at the FCA event with the Razorbacks baseball team. And they connect with me too. God shows himself to us and pursues us relentlessly going to great lengths offering to protect us from the destruction that His enemy wants for us. He even went to the cross to die in our place so we would not have to be separated from Him. When we begin to understand this, we have a choice to make – Ignore God or accept him. If we choose to ignore him, he continues to pursue us. He will show himself in the midst of the challenges and consequences that our sin brings our way. If we choose to accept him, then he calls us to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations…” And in case you think “I’m not a pastor, I can’t lead others to know God” I heard a pastor point out once that “Shepherds don’t make sheep, sheep make sheep”. It is not the pastor’s job to tell everyone in our world about God, it is our job. We are to share what He has done for us with others around us. And He will use us to reproduce new believers with their own stories that He wants to use to tell even more people about His perfect love and the plan He has for them. I pray that we will see how He protects us, understand our need for Him, and reproduce more people of faith in our lives.