I’m a miracle

Former slugger finally finds peace

Former baseball great Darryl Strawberry used to play before 50,000 fans on a typical Sunday. Today, Sunday is reserved for the God who saved him. The ordained preacher is often found speaking to much–smaller crowds at churches, as he did recently in upstate New York. Strawberry, best known for playing for the Mets and Yankees, delivered a Gospel–centered sermon chockfull of Scripture and reflections on his life in and out of baseball. The four–time World Series champion believes he is making a far greater impact today than he ever did on the baseball diamond.

What you do doesn’t define who you are. You don’t find out who you are until you come to Christ. When you find Christ, you’re free.

I wasn’t always like this. Over the years, God changed my life. I’m so grateful for being broken because it is part of what we go through as people. There is only one person who can change you and that is Jesus Himself.

I was broken because my father was an alcoholic. He rejected me and beat the crap out of me and said I would never amount to anything. When I was 14, he came home with a shotgun and said he was going to kill the whole family. My brothers and I went into action and almost killed my father. That could have been a tragedy in my life before I ever put on the [baseball] uniform. People saw me put it on and asked, “What’s wrong with him?” The truth is, I was already broken. My pain led me to my greatness, but my greatness led to my destructive behavior. If you never get well on the inside, that pain will always be there.

I had it all. I was privileged my whole life. I lived in gated communities. I had everything. My kids were privileged. They’ve never been to public school; they’ve been to private school their whole lives. I just accumulated a bunch of stuff. I had everything, but I had nothing until I met Jesus Christ.

If we never deal with what’s important in life, we’ll miss it. I came close to missing what was important. It’s Jesus Himself—The Man who hung on a cross and shed His blood that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

We’ve gotten consumed
with earthly things
rather than with Kingdom things. Kingdom things are better than earthly things because Kingdom things are eternal. Earthly things are going to pass. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not His Word.

God is always going to use somebody. He’s always going to use a vessel to bring about His Word. You’re looking at one—me. If you’ve never seen a miracle, you’re looking at one now. God is a miracle–maker. He always has and always will continue to do miracles until He returns.

You used to know the baseball player who did all those great things and got into all kinds of trouble. Well, he’s dead. He no longer lives. It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.

I don’t really know what took me so long to get here. I think the problem is, I never picked up the Bible. My mother had been praying for me and when she was dying, she continued to pray for me and my brothers. She kept praying. She prayed that God would save all of us and change us. Guess what? When Mama prayed, God listened.

The Bible is the greatest book a person could ever read and it’s been here forever. It’s just a matter of asking, “When do I pick it up and read it for myself?”

Christ can’t increase if I don’t decrease. I had wanted to be Darryl Strawberry the baseball player and hold up my trophies. But if I hadn’t gotten out of the way, I could have never lived God’s perfect plan. One day, it was no longer about me, but about His Kingdom, His principles, and His Church.

They thought I had victory playing baseball. No, I have victory now being holy. This is what victory looks like now—being holy and being righteous because of Jesus’ shed blood. That blood has cleansed me and empowered me and given me everything that I was missing in life; it has given me joy.

We want to fill those empty holes inside us. We want to fill them with more of this, and more of that. But those things will never work. They will never work until we’re filled with Jesus.

I had plenty of money. It never made me well. I lived in mansions. They never made me well. I had a bunch of fame. It never made me well. I wanted to be well—on the inside. Today, I stand here whole and well on the inside because Jesus Himself is Lord over my life.

I’m not educated to preach. I didn’t go to preaching school. God called me from a “pit” to a pulpit.

I’ve been preaching for eight years. God called me out of my apartment in Manhattan and told me to close my restaurant. He said I was going to preach … that the Holy Spirit would descend on me and teach me the Bible. I started diving into the Bible and He started teaching me everything. There I was, getting saturated with the Holy Spirit! God calls you right where you are. He just needs a vessel and to be able to use it (you) for His glory.

I buried my mom at 55 and my sister at 51 and guess what? They didn’t take anything with them. So, I decided I didn’t have to be consumed with all this earthly stuff. I realized I needed to be consumed with His principles, work for Him, and do what He’s called me to do.

That old baseball player? He’s dead. I don’t even like baseball anymore. For the last nine years, I’ve been in ministry, preaching the Gospel. I’ll show up if there’s a [baseball] reunion or something like that, but I’m so busy because God has restored me.

Baseball is nothing. Heaven and earth are going to pass away, but not God’s Word. When you die, people will talk about you for a week and then they’ll stop talking about you. I think about the lives I’ve had a chance to impact [more than baseball]. God loves people. He’s crazy about people and we become a vessel when we understand that. When we start loving people, we get to have an impact too.

When I started on this journey, I was $3 million in debt and didn’t have a driver’s license. God’s got a great sense of humor. I ended up in prison because of addiction. You see, God was doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself. God has a greater plan. He is the restorer. But I had to get rid of the old.

People need to get faith in their lives [in overcoming addiction]. I overcame addiction through the Church. Church is powerful. I think people underestimate the Church. People think church is a bunch of rules and regulations. It’s not. It’s to help you change. When you search for who you are, you’re not going to find it in stuff; you’re going to find it in Jesus Christ. He’s already done it for us. It’s just us surrendering ourselves and entering in. We need to encourage more people to come to church. Let God speak to your heart because He loves you.

I’m not thirsty anymore because I drink “living water.” It fills me every day with goodness, joy, happiness—no matter what I’m going through.

I decided I no longer wanted to live a life of brokenness. I should be dead. I had cancer twice. I lost my left kidney. I was broken and in the midst of addiction. I was shooting dope and smoking crack. There I was. Everyone had written me off. But Jesus said, “I want him.”

Jesus loves the lost, the ones who don’t believe they have it all together and don’t think highly of themselves, but who think highly of Jesus. When you meet Him, you’re not going to want anyone else. I love my wife. I love my kids. But, I love Jesus more. When you’ve tasted and entered in and gained this relationship with Him, you’ll understand that He has everything that is missing inside of you. He’ll fill that void with His Spirit.

No man will be able to love you, no woman will be able to love you, no child will be able to love you, like Jesus does.

Everyday, I get up and worship Him. I don’t miss days. When I get up and my feet hit the floor, I tell Him, “Thank you.” I spend time with Him and worship Him and just love Him because of His grace. When you understand what grace really is, you’ll become grateful. Grace is something you don’t deserve. Grace is something He gives you every day.

I think The Salvation Army is great. They do a wonderful job of helping people who nobody else wants to help. I’ve spoken at a lot of their events. They’re a life–saver for many people. It’s a church that brings love and hope.

by Robert Mitchell