We are told that in order to have a successful and orderly existence it would be best to “touch all bases.” And now, as I am rounding third, my mind keeps insisting on taking periodic trips down memory lane, permitting one final glance at the disasters and triumphs of an interesting life. One undisputed fact is that I have garnered a substantial number of “followers” despite a rather sketchy background and a disturbing lack of tact. Conversely, through it all, I can count on one hand those individuals that have left an indelible mark in my life and without whom this journey would have taken a different course.
My mind keeps wandering to the batter’s box, where I first learned to take a stand and keep my eye on the ball. My hitting instructor was grandpa, who took over coaching duties after the sudden departure of my father. He taught me the wonderment of nature, life’s simplest pleasures and an appreciation for sports. He was the architect for the passion of becoming a professional ballplayer and the cheerleader of my impending career.
But upon arrival at first base, it became painfully clear that I got there not by hitting but by getting hit. Skip, my AA baseball manager, ‘brought me down to earth” with the unsettling but obvious news that I needed a career change. In doing so, however, he pointed out that many of the attributes learned through the years would serve me well during my subsequent profession. It was through the encouragement of my second coach that I attained a position in federal law enforcement that lasted 32 years.
In the midst of that career, I met Hank, my third “coach” and boss during my years in El Paso, Texas. I truly was enjoying my job at the time, which consisted of undercover investigations both here and abroad and felt secure standing on first base. A rather dangerous activity, given the proclivity of passively becoming the person one was trying to portray. Again, huge disappointment followed his advice that my covert activities should come to an end, thus forcing me to take second base on a balk. Somehow, I went from anonymity to the spotlight, as I became a somewhat polished motivational speaker and trainer during the latter part of my second career, setting the predicate for the third, one which I still practice to this day. Hank not only pushed me out of my comfort zone but literally saved my earthly life.
The Great Commissioner
But when does Jesus get in the game? Well, I met Him over thirty years ago and have literally taken a conservative approach in allowing Him to coach me. I suppose it is because Christ is not the manager nor the coach, but the Great Commissioner, who came down to save me from my sins, and by accepting Him, I am expected to work out the Great Commission in my life. Since then, I have met many wonderful men of God but none who would coach me. But over three decades without a Christian grandpa, Skip or Hank in my life? That changed less than two weeks ago while attending a missionary conference where my wife Julianne and I met Xu “Peter” Yongze, a Chinese pastor who has suffered numerous incarcerations, labor camps and torture in his homeland as a result of bringing the gospel to thousands throughout the years. There is something so special, so humble, so gentle to this man I only met for a few hours. My spirit and soul is stirred by what he said and how he said it. He is the representation of “Jesus in fleshly man”, a sinful individual bullied, belittled and beaten yet with this incredible aura of peace about him. We communicated through a translator, but his spiritual language came across loud and clear. I found my third base coach; he got me there by his walk.
Home Run with Christ
My last and most important career is to serve, honor and glorify Him. Whenever I feel disheartened, weakened or defeated, I only have to look at Coach Pete to get me back in the game. Less than ninety feet await me and no idea as to the exact arrival, but time is indeed short. Yet only one thing is certain…..I will be safe at Home.
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