Dear Younger Me Series
"Incredible Game, Terrible God" by Colin McCusker
This week's "Dear Younger Me" letter is written by Colin McCusker, a Social Studies teacher and baseball coach at Legend High School. A Colorado baseball native, Colin played college ball at Saddleback College and the University of California-Davis. His heart for the Lord and for this next generation of baseball players is evident in his letter and in his involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Legend. His message will resonate with players, coaches, and parents alike. Colin and his wife, Cecilia, live in Colorado.
Dear Younger Colin,
Sorry to break the news, but your pursuit of perfection in all areas of life still hasn’t been achieved. Slow down, take a deep breath, live one day at a time, and understand that there is more to you than your successes on the baseball field. It’s easier said than done, but the Lord is trying to teach you to embrace your weaknesses as a man and to find your strength in Him. This is going to be a daily challenge for you throughout High School, as every part of your surrounding world is telling you otherwise: you need to look perfect, act perfect, be perfect, and play perfect. I know you think that your popularity, talent, self-confidence, and future are all dictated by your success on the field, but God will slowly begin to open your eyes to understand that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
You’re going to go through High School feeling under-appreciated as a player, often being told by college coaches that you need to get bigger and stronger. Don’t take it personally (the strength and velocity comes later) and play to your strengths as a student of the game and being able to hit spots with confidence as a “crafty lefty”. You’ll get some league and state recognition your senior year and get invited to play for an outstanding Summer team, but you’ll feel overlooked by the big schools that you feel deserving of. You’ll choose to go the junior college route and head west to Saddleback College in Orange County, CA. You’ll quickly go from feeling established and recognized in Colorado to feeling like a small fish in a big pond. Asked to redshirt, you’ll question your passion for the game and if this is really what you want to do. Be sure to thank your parents and family for the constant ear and reminder to keep your eyes on the Lord and to trust his plan. This is where that strength and velocity finally starts to set in (along with 25 lbs.)…thanks to a little thing called puberty. You’ll have a great Redshirt Freshmen season, keeping a combined 0.00 ERA through both the Spring and Summer seasons that continues into an excellent Sophomore year. You’ll finally start to feel recognized as a player receiving letters from scouts and from big schools. It won’t register until later that all these worldly goals and successes were never used to glorify Christ in the way that they should have. You’ll put a cross, a bible verse (Philippians 4:13), and a fish under the bill of your hat, but the reasoning becomes a blurred image of purpose. Your scholarship to UC Davis will feel like an awesome opportunity to play at the D-1 level and receive a great education, but will come with more challenges than you could have ever expected. Through all these challenges (Grandpa passing away, torn labrum in the shoulder, dog dying, etc.), God will continually encourage you to turn to him and stop relying on your own strength. So bud, as you go through all these highs and lows of life over the next few years, here are a few areas that you will struggle the most and God will help you work through it:
1. You’re not in control. This will be a continuous fight for you, but your plans do not equal God’s plans…I promise. God has such an awesome plan for your life beyond anything that you have dreamt up to this point. You’ll have questions, injuries, and self-doubt, but these challenges will only help in strengthening your faith and trust in what the Lord has in store for you. Currently, your life is the bee’s knees: you are in an amazing marriage to a beautiful, Christ-loving woman, you have an amazing job as a teacher and coach, where God has placed you to be a light in a dark place. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5
2. Own your faith. It won’t be until college that you start to realize that your relationship with Christ is not in your last name. You’ve been able to fake your way through childhood by playing the game of being in church every week, knowing all the right answers, and avoiding trouble, and being a “Pastor’s Kid”, but God knows where your heart truly lies. It’s not until a teammate says “McCusker, I didn’t know you were a Christian?” halfway through the season that it dawns on you that you haven’t used your talents and platform to share the greatest gift on Earth with guys that you see every day. Don’t just be willing to share the Gospel, but be proud and transparent. “So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16
3. Find strength in your weakness. The only way to overcome your weakness is to rely on God’s strength. To do that, you have to stop focusing on your weaknesses: Am I good enough? Do people like me? Why are my buddies getting more offers? What’s next? You cannot look at everything you are not in baseball and life. You must look at everything God is and will be. Focus on His strength and all He is willing to do for you in your journey through baseball and life. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Relax, trust God, love those around you, and enjoy the ride. A wise man named Gary McCusker once said, “Baseball is an incredible game, but a terrible God...remember that.”
Here’s looking at you, kid.
Bottom of the Ninth #199 - March 17, 2017