Are you ready for some baseball? Ok, so I’m a little late for opening day but I am here now and ready to take on my 2017 baseball series on Living Up to My Name. I really enjoyed last football season when I did half of the NFL with current players and half with historical players, so I am going to bring those flavors to the baseball season this time around. I will write posts about former MLB players associated with teams in the American League, and I will feature current players from National League teams. So welcome to the 2017 baseball season, enjoy the coming months with stories about Christian baseball players and the way God is at work in their lives and circumstances.
And the beauty of making my own blog rules is that I can tiptoe across the lines as I see fit. And that is what I will do with the first post. I am going to start with the Champs, but David Ross is no longer a member of the Chicago Cubs. He has retired from baseball and as such is technically not a current player BUT, he has been a member of a World Championship Chicago Cubs team (2016) (and also won with my favorite team, the Red Sox in 2013) And so, I will let myself start this season with his story.
He is a likable guy with a greying beard and a kind persona. He became known affectionately as “grandpa” to the young Cubs roster, and as you can see in this video, he was not simply a roster-filler, but played a role in their winning the title, hitting this home run in game 7.
Ross was drafted out of high school in the 19th round of the 1995 draft but opted to go to college at Auburn. He was drafted again in the 7th round of the 1998 draft and would go on to play for 15 years with 7 different teams.
And what a way to end a career, hitting a World Series home run, winning the World Series in Chicago for the first time in over a century. And tonight, he made it to the finals on Dancing with the Stars. There is a lot of fun in those experiences, and that must have been refreshing after going through a harrowing birth of their third child, Harper. Check out the story in this video from City First Church (it starts at the 22:30 mark)
Harper was born 2 months early – David was on the road with the team- wife had some bleeding and checked herself in to the hospital. Bed rest was ordered. Ross played that night and then he was given a leave from the team. His teammate and friend Jon Lester ordered a private jet for him to join his wife. The baby was found to be in partial abruption, and an emergency c-section was ordered. Baby Harper was born, weighing 3 pounds.
Ross is then asked what this experience did that do to your faith. Ross said this experience reminded him that “we are not in control – God is in control. As good as things appear to be, they can be taken away”. He goes on to add “I’m not perfect, I’ve got a bad mouth – my kids remind me to watch my language.” He strives to be a good example to his kids and to others that he may meet. He says he is constantly checking himself asking “What kind of example am I leading. What kind of light am I shining – I don’t ever want to dim God’s light – I try to let him shine through me as much as possible… We are not going to be perfect. we are all going to make mistakes. But keep striving to be the best – that comes with God’s help in our journey.”
Here are my takeaways from Ross’ story.
1- Don’t Dim God’s Light – We are not able to hinder God from his work because he is not dependent on us, but as Ross said, we can block his light from shining in our lives. When we are focussed on ourselves, His light doesn’t shine through us very strongly. Isaiah 42.8 tells us that God will not share his glory with others, it is for Him alone. So how do we keep the lens polished so that his light shines through us strongly. That comes from asking for His help and surrendering our selfishness to Him and for His purposes.
2- How do you Lead – I remember when I first started working in youth ministry, I loved coming up with crazy (hopefully fun) activities that may challenge comfort zones and “coolness” factors. But when I prepared these lessons and activities, there was one guideline that I held to strongly. I would not ask the students in my youth group to do anything that I was not willing to do myself. If they called me on it, I would model the desired behavior. In the video, Ross talks about leadership. He said “Leaders don’t try to lead, they lead by example”. That is an important lesson in work places where you may be a leader. Value your staff and take every opportunity to guide them and model your expectations. It is also a great reminder in life for us to lead like Jesus who was the ultimate example of servant leadership. He will help us love others and show them the difference He can make in their lives.
So as David Ross adjusts to life after baseball, and the rest of us cheer him on on Dancing with the Stars, remember the challenges that he shared in this video, and allow Christ to show us the truth about who we are and remind is that our bad choices do not necessarily doom us. Surrendering to Jesus is the one way to allow His light to shine through you wherever you may go.