By Shawn Brown
Atlanta Braves Left-Handed Reliever Billy Wagner established himself as one of the League’s best closers. After a 15-year career, he may be calling it quits after this season. I got a chance to sit with Billy to talk about his faith in God and what role it’s played in his life as a ball player.
During the interview he gave a lot of insight on his approach to baseball and what drives him to play. His family is second on the list behind his faith. But out of that conversation what stood out to me was a story he shared about what made him a left-handed pitcher. You see, he was naturally a right-handed pitcher. When he was about seven years old, he was innocently wrestling in his yard with a friend, as most young boys do at that age, and broke his arm. Then, a few weeks later, when it healed, the same friend came over and he broke it again. Boys.
What’s interesting is that he never slowed down. Because he could no longer throw with his right arm, he decided to just throw with his left. That was it. No deep thought process or analyzing involved.
Now, I must admit, when I first heard the story I thought to myself, “Wow, what a story of resilience. He knew he wanted to be a big league pitcher someday, and he didn’t let his injury stop him.” As Billy went on telling me the story, I realized it was much simpler than that. He didn’t know that his injury could have prevented him from pitching. He never thought of it that way. What he thought was, ‘I can’t throw with my right arm, so I’ll throw with my left.’ Simple huh?
Billy was unable to use his right arm for several weeks, but during that time he threw with his left hand against a barn near his house. After several weeks, his left arm got stronger, and the rest is history.
It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we stop paying so much attention to what we can’t do and focus on what we can. The Lord chose Billy Wagner to be a Major League pitcher, and because he never acknowledged a potential set back at an early age, his destiny was fulfilled. I challenge you to refocus on the prize to which God has called you. Are you brave enough to take your eyes off of the obstacles in your way and place them on what is behind them? After all, Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)