Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012
in Relational, Spiritual, Sports
With my dad’s influence I grew up a baseball fan. We played catch on the sidewalks. We played wiffle ball in the front yard. We listened to games in the car. We watched games in the living room. I still have some baseball cards from 1970 the first season I bought my own baseball cards.
The Chicago Cubs were then and still are my favorite team. My dad had been a Cubs fan and Milwaukee Braves fan growing up.
Growing up a Chicago Cubs fan I developed certain loyalties and certain biases. One of the loyalties I felt I had to maintain was to dislike the St. Louis Cardinals. I didn’t hate them. I was jealous of their success; they have won four World Series championships during my lifetime, the Cubs none. I was jealous of the reputation of their fans as smart and loyal fans.
So when the Cardinals signed one of my favorite players who was not a Cubs player I was jealous.
Lance Berkman is one of the few players that I own a baseball jersey of because of his great reputation as a Christian man and a caring person. Yesterday Lance torn his knee up. And though it’s hard to feel sad for the Cardinals as a team, I prayed for Berkman’s recovery.
Here’s a couple pieces from interviews he did over the years.
From a Houston Chronicle interview with Claudia Feldman:
Q: Growing up in the Austin area, was your family religious?
A: I like to say I overcame a drug problem. My parents “drug” me to church. For a long time, it was a religious ritual, but it had no depth, no meaning for me. There’s a difference between knowing a lot of facts about God and knowing God. I guess you could say I was born again, or transformed from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive, when I was at Rice (University).
That’s when I felt a true connection with God. There was no lightning bolt, but I felt that connection over a course of time. And people helped, my roommate and his sister, who became my wife. They were instrumental. They taught me the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge.
Q: What role does faith play in your life?
A: It’s most important. Most people want to compartmentalize their job, family and religion. But when you’re a Christian, it permeates every aspect of your life. It’s who I am, and it comes out in every arena.
Faith also helps me not get caught up in the hype of being a local celebrity. Some get a feeling of elevated importance. In 200 years, no one will know I played. I try to keep an eternal perspective.
Q: How are faith and baseball intertwined? And do you ever pray for hits?
A: I’m not here to say I’m an authority on how God operates, but as for praying for hits, I’m not into that.
I think God cares about me – he cares about our struggles – but I don’t believe that if I pray for a hit, he’ll get me a hit.
If I’m in a slump, I’ll bring that burden to him. You grow through trials. You learn from difficult times.
God didn’t spare his own son, and he doesn’t spare us.
Two teams pray for a win. God doesn’t care about a baseball game or the World Series. He cares about individuals.
From a Beliefnet interview by Chad Bonham:
Bonham: Tell me about your spiritual journey.
Berkman: I was raised in church by Christian parents and I was baptized when I was 11 years old. But I didn’t really have a good understanding of what the Gospel was really all about until college. It’s a time when you’re getting out from your parents’ supervision and you’re starting to think for yourself maybe for the first time. That was the case with me. That’s when my faith became my own. The Lord used a lot of people to bring me to that point. One of them was my brother-in-law Jake Baker and the other was my wife Cara when we were dating. She continues to help me grow spiritually. So it really began my sophomore year at Rice (University) and it’s a work in progress to this day.
Bonham: What’s your favorite Bible verse?
Berkman: John 15:5. It’s my favorite because a lot of people who will say, “Well, I’m a good person.” There’s a theology out there that says if the good you do outweighs the bad that you do, that means you’re a good person therefore you’re in good standing with God. That verse really hits home for me because anything we do that’s good apart from the power and the name of Jesus Christ, not that it doesn’t count, but from a spiritual standpoint, it’s not edifying. It’s not worth much…
Bonham: How do you go about making a difference in the lives of your teammates?
Berkman: The key to dealing with people in general is that they have to know that you care about them. You have to deal with people in gentleness. You have to come along side of them. You can’t push them. You can’t pull them. You have to walk with them. In order to do that, you’ve got to demonstrate care for that individual. That’s my whole thing. I want my teammates to know that I care about them personally. I care about what happens with them on and off the field. When you are in that position, you earn the right to speak into their lives. I try to let guys know that I do care about them and consequently I think they’ll listen to me when I have something to say.