Daniel Poncedeleon pitched a no-hitter last night for seven innings for the St. Louis Cardinals in his Major League debut. Unfortunately, because of needing to pinch hit for him and because of a high pitch count, his manager made the most difficult decision to take him out of the game. More unfortunately, the Cardinals’ designated “closer” Bud Norris gave up a couple of runs in that last inning and the Cardinals lost 2-1.
But, here’s the real story. Not only was this Poncedeleon’s first ever game to pitch in the Major Leagues, he is fortunate that he ever got the chance to pitch. Last season while playing for the AAA Minor League team of the Cardinals, a batted ball struck Poncedeleon in the head causing a serious injury. His Major League start last night was the celebration after surgery, days of clinging to life in the ICU, and months of rehabilitation. As a baseball fan, his story is a great one.
But, as a Christian, there is more to the story. Last night after the game, the anchor of ESPN did a live interview with Poncedeleon. The second question was, “How is your life different since being hit in the head with the line drive.”
Poncedeleon is a pitcher, but as a Christian, he hit a home run. “Honestly,” he did not hesitate, “the accident has made me a better Christian, and I spend more time in the Word.”
The ESPN anchor tried to move away quickly from this forbidden subject, but asked, “Are you scared?”
Again, Poncedeleon gave glory to God by responding, ”No, my faith in God helps me, and I know He has a plan for my life.”
Three things stand out to me about his interview.
- In the spur of the moment without preparation, he could have fumbled, but because of who he is every day, giving testimony of his relationship to God was as natural as anything. When your moment comes today to speak a word for God, will you be ready?
- In the moment, Poncedeleon succeeded because he was ready. The Bible says, “Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) Have you prepared yourself to always give a reason for the hope that you have in Jesus?
- I was further impressed when asked about Bud Norris that Poncedeleon again delivered. “I haven’t had the chance to speak to him yet, but when I do, I am going to tell him that it’s ok.”
I thank God for Christian athletes who use their platforms to glorify God in word and deed. But, I am also thankful for countless others who speak up for God every day in their workplaces who will never be interviewed on national television.
When your chance comes today to speak a word about God and for God, will you?