Some time ago I referenced my testimony to a friend. She admitted that she had never heard my story, and then indicated she would love to hear it. Since that moment, I felt I should share my story here. Due to its length, I will divide it into two entries.
I grew up in rural Alabama. We went to church on a semi-regular basis. One Sunday morning after church (I believe I was about 9 at the time) I left the church in tears. In truth, I don’t remember this, but my mom does. Our small church’s pastor seemed to think that my tears indicated that I wanted to come forward during the invitation but was not allowed. He visited our house the next week and received my parents’ permission to talk with me. The pastor asked me a series of gospel related questions, which I answered easily after years of Sunday school. A few weeks later, I was baptized. This was problematic for me at the time since I did not understand that I was lost and needed a Savior.
Not much changed for me after that. Life rocked on as usual. I grew up and got serious about sports. At different stages I was involved in karate, football, and baseball. I gave up karate after one too many punches in the nose. Football was something to do between baseball seasons. Of the three, Baseball was my greatest love. I poured all of my time and effort into it. There was nothing I wanted more than to “make it” as a ball player. Soon this passion assumed first place in my life. It was my idol. Everything was going according to my plan.
The funny thing about plans is they sometimes change unexpectedly. On Wednesday, March 22, 1995, I went to school just like any other day. I had a baseball game scheduled that afternoon. The previous night, the water pipes in our high school main building froze and burst. Several classes were displaced, including my science class. We relocated to a classroom in the gymnasium. My teacher for that period was one of my coaches and since the day was already disrupted, he gave us a free day. Several other athletes and I went into the adjacent weight room to work out. As I prepared to spot a teammate’s bench press, I was overwhelmed by a sense that something was not quite right. I excused myself from the spotter position and immediately went to see if I could go call my mother to come get me. Coach glanced at his watch and told me that if I would wait about ten minutes, he’d let me go. I walked away from his desk, sat down in a nearby chair and immediately went into cardiac arrest. A teacher and another coach started CPR. Our principal, who was an EMT and had his crash cart in his car was called over and he ended up having to shock my heart back into rhythm.
I remember nothing from Wednesday until Friday. As evidence of my idolatrous devotion to baseball, my first question upon discovering what happened to me was, “How long before I can play baseball again?” Tears flooded my hospital room when I was told that my athletic career was over. What I did not know was my spiritual journey was just beginning. Check back tomorrow for part two.