This is the 21st installment in my blog series on Christian Baseball Players. Our trip through all the teams in the major leagues brings us to New York Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner.
As a long time Red Sox fan, I have a hard time admitting that I like any of the Yankees, but they do have several players that are easy to cheer for. Brett Gardner is one of them.
In fact, the only home run of my “career” was a sight to see. I slapped a hit down the first base line. I was almost at second when the right fielder picked up the ball and fired it back to the infield, but to his surprise, his throw hit an overhanging branch from a nearby tree and fell back to the ground 15 feet in front of him. By the time he gathered the ball again and threw it back into the infield, I was safely home.
|Gardner and Alyssa Esposito.
She told him he’d hit a home run that night.
It seems funny then that this story will center around a Brett Gardner home run hit in May 2009.
I came across this Guideposts story that Gardner himself wrote in the fall of 2009 years ago about meeting a young patient at a local hospital that was awaiting a heart transplant. He was visiting this hospital with Babe Ruth’s granddaughter, who shared a story of when her famous grandfather told a sick boy that he would hit a home run for him, and then proceeded to do just that. Inspired by this story this young heart patient approached Gardner gave him a bracelet and told him he would hit a home run for her that night.
Well Gardner was not even in the starting lineup that night so the chances of hitting a home run lay somewhere between slim and none. But then a Yankee player got ejected for arguing with an umpire – and Gardner was called into action. Here is his second at-bat of the night.
This was not how Gardner imagined that it would happen, but what a story it made. Gardner hoped that his new friend would be right. He prayed that he would somehow hit a home run for her in the game even though it seemed almost impossible in his mind. He also prayed that God would provide a heart donor for her. And the icing on the cake part of the story is that the young girl received her heart transplant the very same day.
Gardner had his prayer answered and in an unexpected way. Here a few lessons that I take from this story:
First – God cares about the little things. In the grand scheme things, a fast baseball player and a strange bounce leading to an inside-the-park-home-run don’t seem to matter much. But our God is a personal God and through this event, lives were touched and awareness of God’s willingness to answer prayer was increased in the lives of a baseball player and his young fan. (as well as countless others like me, who read the story).
Second – God can do things that seem unlikely, and even impossible. That is His way of growing our faith. We see something and believe that God will work it out even if we don’t get how, and when He does work it out it makes having faith in Him in the future, easier.
Third – What happens may not look like how we dreamed it would, but it fits perfectly into God’s plans.
Gardner prayed to slug one out of the park but instead he hit an inside the park home run using the skills that God had given him (his speed) to accomplish the task.
God equips us all with gifts, talents and abilities and asks us to use them for his purposes. When we do amazing things happen!
In Luke 5, Peter and others have been fishing all night. Jesus comes and tells him to cast out their nets again. Peter resists (We’ve been fishing all night with no results) but obeys anyway, and they catch a boatload of fish. Peter says “get away from me, I am a sinful man” recognizing the power of God in Jesus.
But Jesus has a comforting statement for him. Follow me and I will make you “fishers of men”. Jesus is telling Peter that he will still be doing what he is already equipped to do, but with a Kingdom purpose.
Brett Gardner still keeps the bracelet that the girl gave him. He says in his article that it is not just a reminder about the power of prayer, but also about the One who answers the prayers. God is in control, and His plan is perfect. We may not see how it will work out, or may think that the task is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19.26)