About a year and a half ago, I finally declared a professional baseball allegiance to the Cleveland Indians. Long story. I had my reasons and I’m sticking to my guns.
Today, though, I want to tell you about why the New York Mets are on my radar, and why I was glad to hear that R. A. Dickey, their 37-year-old knuckleballer, shut down the Pirates on Tuesday.
I have become acquainted with Dickey’s story through his recently released memoir, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball. Dickey’s book is courageous, compelling, and inspiring, and I hope many of you will read it. Rarely does a book present such a unique combination of colorful personality, literary skill (he was an English literature major at Tennessee), athletic action, and insightful faith, all on the canvas of an extremely challenging life journey.
One concept in the book is really sticking with me, and I thought it might be worthy of your consideration as well.
The most intense chapter that I have read so far in Wherever I Wind Up (I’m only about two-thirds of the way through the memoir) recounts Dickey’s ill-advised attempt to swim across the Missouri River, which became a significant turning point for him, both personally and athletically. I’ll not ruin the story for you by sharing all the details, but I will offer this fascinating quote, which appears right at the close of the chapter (p. 214).
When I was weeping underwater in the big brown currents of the longest river in North America, I was sure my time was over. God, it turned out, had other ideas, giving me a chance to see if a man who had spent a lifetime running away from the present could possibly find a way to embrace it.
I must confess that this statement puzzled me at first. Having read about his difficult history, I suppose I wondered why Dickey would say that he had been running away from the present, rather than from the past. He clarifies later by writing that he began to live and pitch, for the first time, “fully immersed in each moment,” no longer “living on the edge of a self-created abyss . . . clinging to every stump or branch I can find as the river of live flows by, because I’m terrified of where it’s going” (p. 225).
Men, this is a perfect example of how transformative it is when someone actually heeds the words of Jesus, who said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34 ESV). How often has my casual familiarity with this simple statement eviscerated its incredible power? How often have I found myself unable to experience and enjoy the present—and thus run away from the present, as Dickey puts it—because I choose to ruminate on scars from the past and fears about the future? What would my life look like if I lived in full appreciation of my Father’s care for me?
Wherever I Wind Up is a gutsy book, and I’m thankful that R. A. Dickey wrote it. I’m thankful that God brought him up from the bottom and gave him a second chance on life. And I’m thankful, too, that the God who brought up R. A. Dickey from the bottom so thoroughly redeems the past and superintends the future that all of us can live in the present.