I wanted to give another preview of a chapter inside my new book Dugout Devotions: Inspirational Hits from MLB’s Best and show how God once opened a door for me, even when it was initially shut.
One of the athletes I had hoped to interview for the book was New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge.
I usually don’t make a habit of asking permission to talk to a player, but I decided to run the proper channels because he plays for the most successful franchise in baseball. He was also in high demand, and the New York media can be difficult to maneuver around inside a clubhouse.
A few weeks before the Bronx Bombers came to Cleveland, I emailed the director of communications and asked for 10 minutes with Aaron before a game against the Indians.
The few times I had done this I had always been approved. The Pittsburgh Steelers said yes to my request to talk with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and the Los Angeles Dodgers had approved a few moments with Cy Young award-winner Clayton Kershaw, so I was optimistic.
About 15 minutes after I hit “send” I received a response.
“Wow,” I thought, “That was fast. I wonder if they even looked at it.”
The response stated Aaron was in “too high of a demand.”
I pondered and decided to go to Cleveland anyway. I wasn’t going to let “no” stop me.
When I arrived at the ball park and made my way down to the clubhouse, I whispered a little selfish prayer. “Lord, let this happen if it’s meant to be,” I said. “After all, I just drove four hours after I was told I could not talk to him.”
I walked into the Yankees’ locker room, and there was Aaron Judge, sitting alone at a table looking at his phone. I approached him and simply asked if he had a few moments to talk about his faith with me.
He smiled and invited me to sit down with him.
Chapter six details what I found out during our conversation. Here is a blurb:
Aaron grew up in a Christian home in California, and he was taught the right way. Still, he had to make his own decision to follow Christ, which he did at a young age, and has never looked back. He maintains a humble attitude and displays a readiness to help anyone, especially his teammates.
To him, his job with the winningest team in MLB history is a blessing and a way for him to tell the masses about the love of Jesus Christ.
“Any way I can spread the Word of God and get the message out there is a wonderful thing,” he said. “I feel that is why I am where I am today.”
People tend to listen to a man with Aaron’s tremendous platform and stature—he stands six-feet, seven-inches tall and weighs 282 pounds. And while he isn’t embarrassed to proclaim his faith, he does not throw it in anyone’s face either. He wants the world to see Christ in him and read about his devotion to God.
“I just want to be able to inspire and encourage people,” he said. “Any time you are able to share the Word of God and be a good example, then do it. That’s how I feel, and that’s what I try to do every day.”
He realizes thousands of eyes are on him, but he doesn’t mind the extra attention.
“Any time you can wear these pinstripes and play baseball for this team is a blessing,” he said. “If I go 0-4 at the plate, it’s still a great day for me because I play for the best organization in baseball, and I’m a child of the King.”
Aaron displays an open faith, which helps him deal with the challenges he encounters. Although he looms larger than life to some young admirers, he has problems just like you and me.
But he serves a God who is much bigger than the mystique of the New York Yankees.
You will have to get your copy of Dugout Devotions to read the whole chapter.
After my interview, the same man who denied my request congratulated me for interviewing Aaron and informed me that the Yankee All-Star doesn’t do many one-on-ones. Obviously, it was a God thing.
The media representative was just doing his job to protect his player. and I understand that. He wasn’t mean or nasty. But would I have been able to talk with Aaron if I had given up? No.
I was determined to have Aaron in my book, and God saw fit to help me.
Have you wanted to do something for the Lord and been told no by the devil? (Please don’t accuse me of calling the media guy the devil because he was not.)
Maybe you have wanted to help someone, and a small voice inside you said, “Someone else will come to their aid.”
Or perhaps you felt a tug on your heart to pay for a person’s meal at a restaurant without them knowing and then suddenly decided not to. Why?
Keep in mind the forces of evil don’t want you to do something positive and good for someone else. Satan will always whisper “No.”
If I had taken “No” for an answer, chapter six would have been about a different player than Aaron Judge, and my readers would have missed out on his inspirational testimony.
The point here is if you feel a calling to do something great, don’t let the devil fill your head with doubts and negative thoughts.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Go visit that person in the hospital or take a snack in to nurses on the late shift. Stay positive and make a difference.
Will you accept “No” as an answer from the devil? Or will you claim victory in Jesus’ name?
Let me know your thoughts.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
His first book — BUCKEYE BELIEVER - 40 Days of Devotions for The Ohio State Faithful —can be purchased on Amazon.