Solid Ground – Steven Souza

May 3, 2017

Last week I received a great birthday present: The American League Player of the Week award. This was a great privilege and I was really honored to receive it, but awards and recognition do not determine my level of joy. There’s only one thing that does that in my life.


One of the biggest things that changed for me when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ was the joy and freedom I suddenly had for life, especially for the game of baseball. I was no longer enslaved to the game. That bondage was broken. It wasn’t as if I was suddenly given unbelievable talent or power on the field, it wasn’t a trade off—I gave Him my life, He gave me talent. I believe God blessed me with a talent for baseball from the beginning, but once I placed my trust in Christ, I was able to play freely because I could recognize that at the end of the day, this is a game. It’s a game I love to play and I should be playing it with joy.


This wasn’t my perspective when I first started playing professional baseball. In fact, it’s crazy for me to think about my life before Jesus. I lived and died by my results on the field. What other people thought about me as a baseball player—not as a person—was the most important thing to me. I was constantly on an emotional rollercoaster. I remember a time in year one when I went 3 for 3 and thought that I was going to the Big Leagues, only to think the very next day that I was the worst player in the world when I went 0 for 2.


Jesus talks about planting your foundation on sand or solid ground. I was on sand…Every wave that came by just washed me away. I would try to rebuild my foundation only to have it washed away again. Now, although I’m not perfect and I still struggle with these thoughts, I have the Spirit inside of me and He does a good job of reminding me that I am an adopted son, part of the royal priesthood. I was bought with a price.


“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light.” —1 Peter 2:9


I don’t want to let any circumstance change my joy. Whether we have a few losses in a row or a few wins, whether I or one of my teammates is struggling on the field or we’re doing great, nothing can steal my joy. I try to encourage my teammates along the way as well because Satan can do a great job of sucking that joy away when something doesn’t go the way we hoped it would.


We are here for a reason greater than baseball. Let’s not forget that.


But this truth can be really hard to remember in the midst of competition. When people in your workplace or locker room are trying to bring you down, or life isn’t going as you pictured it would, it’s crucial to remember that there’s nothing in front of you that God has not already seen. He loves us more than anything in the world and there’s nothing that is beyond His reach. If these things are true, we have nothing to worry about!


In a way, it’s easier to call out to God when things are hard, isn’t it? The number one thing I struggle with isn’t how to handle failure—I’m ok with being the guy on the bottom—but it’s when I have great success that I gravitate towards the mindset of, “I did it, I don’t need you God.”


Recently my chaplain, Brian Hommel, told me, “Jesus wants to you trust Him not only in the good times, but also in the bad times. He doesn’t need you to hype up His reputation, He doesn’t need you to work for Him. He just needs you to have faith. Even in the really good stuff, He’s right there with you.”


When you need something and find God is there, we experience Him to be a loving and caring Father who will take care of you. When you have everything in this world, it’s harder to recognize that you still need Jesus. That’s why Jesus said:


“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)


I have a tendency to grab things and hold onto them but instead I want to live my life with open hands. Then in joy I will be able to say, “Lord, thank you for what You bless me with. It’s not in my success that I trust, it’s in You.”


—Steven Souza


Steven Souza is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.


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