A Real U-Turn

I remember as a boy liking certain baseball players. One that I for some unknown reason appreciated was Darryl Strawberry. I thought he was a good player and was amazed by his strength and ability. At the time, most of the players I liked the most were from my team, the Braves (with the above mentioned exception, along with Ozzie Smith and Nolan Ryan). I remember being saddened when I heard the Strawberry was addicted to drugs. I reminded me that heroes shouldn’t be put on too high a pedestal.

Just today though, I read an article that reminded me of something else: God’s grace can change even the stoniest heart, and retrieve the most lost of causes. Darryl Strawberry is no longer in baseball. He’s in a profession that he said gives him more happiness than anything he’s ever done: he’s a pastor. In an article in the Washington Post (discovered by Dr. Gene Veith), Strawberry gave an interview of his new life. Tell me if this doesn’t remind you of someone in Scripture.

“The two-story, four-bedroom house sits on a corner in this planned bedroom community, and when the muscular 6-foot-6 man welcomes you inside, there is no evidence that Darryl Strawberry the baseball player ever existed. There are no pictures of Strawberry in a Mets uniform. No trophies. No plaques. None of his four World Series rings. Nothing from his eight all-star games. None of his 335 home run balls.

 ‘I got rid of it all. I was never attached to none of that stuff,’ says Strawberry, 51. ‘I don’t want it. It’s not part of my life anymore.’ Darryl Strawberry the outfielder and slugger from the 1980s and ’90s is no longer. But Darryl Strawberry the ordained minister is very much alive in this town 30 miles west of St. Louis. ‘I’m over ‘Strawberry,’  he says. ‘I’m over Mets. I’m over Yankees. I don’t want to exist as Darryl Strawberry the baseball player. . . .That person is dead.’”

As I read the article, I was struck by how much he sounded like the Apostle Paul. Saul of Tarsus too was a superstar in his own right. He was trained at the feet of an amazing master. He likely saw himself in the tradition of Phineas, the priest who killed a man and his harlot for fornicating near the tabernacle in the book of Numbers. He was the true definition of anti-Christ (opposed to Christ). But he gave it all up when he was struck down on the way to Damascus by the Lord Himself.

Paul said in Philippians that all he had before he counted as dung (read rubbish, manure, fill-in-your-own-synonym) for the sake of Christ. He left everything behind. He had to if he was to gain Christ. Darryl Strawberry did the same thing. He gave up all his stuff from his glory days. All the rings, the memorabilia, everything because it’s trash compared to Christ. That’s not his life. It makes me wonder what things I have that get in the way of obeying Christ completely.  How about you? What do you value more than the Lord of glory? What needs to be put on the trash heap in order to free yourself to serve your King?