CBN.com Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock is one of the fastest men to ever play the game. His career includes two world series championships, membership in the elite “3,000 Hits Club,” and the distinction of being the only major leaguer to have an award named after him while still an active player. But there’s more to the man nicknamed, “The Running Redbird,” than great numbers.
“They will look at my career as the guy who gave it all but at the same time did it with integrity,” says Lou. “That’s what we all aim for -- the respect of the game as well as the honesty that’s played a part of that game.”
Fifty years ago, few would have predicted Lou’s rise to greatness.
“I had a job on college campus. I lost that job, but on my way home I heard an inner voice that said go out for the baseball team,” says Lou. “I was a walk-on, and I was actually petrified as a walk-on because you’re not an athlete.”
At first, Lou could only bring himself to retrieve balls hit in the outfield during practice.
“One day out of pure exhaustion I passed out, and the coach came to me and rather than say, ‘Hey take this kid to the infirmary,’ he said, ‘Hey kid get up and take five batting practice swings.’
“Somewhere inside of me I got up, weak legs and all, and just said a little prayer on the first pitch. ‘Dear God, let me see the ball.’ The ball soared toward right field and went out of the ballpark.’”
Those swings paved the way for Lou’s 19-year journey through professional baseball. He began with the Chicago Cubs in 1961. Three seasons later he was traded to the Cardinals where he spent 15 years endearing himself to the people of St. Louis and the game of baseball.
His wife Jackie says, “I guess I’m the No. 1 fan of my husband, and I think it is just incredibly admirable, the accomplishments he’s made in baseball.”
Jackie believes that life -- after 20 years as a celebrated professional athlete -- provides the perfect opportunity to spread God’s love to others.
“It’s very, very clear, I think, that the Lord established that kind of career because He was building a foundation for the life after baseball,” says Jackie
“He called me by His grace to reveal His Son Jesus through me,” says Lou. “That’s what gives me the strength ‘cause when I go back to that scripture I know fully well I am on Earth because it pleases God.”
But shortly after Lou left the game in 1979, he wasn’t so clear on God’s purpose for his life.
“Well, back in the ‘80s, some of the things began to happen to me in life that I had no idea what they were,” he says. “Doors began to close for me. No matter what I’d touch it would just shut down. Little did I know that perhaps it was the Lord calling. So I began to turn to the Lord and petition him. I was tougher on the Lord than Gideon.
“I was not in the church, but we claim, like so many people, ‘Yeah, I grew up in the church.’ Well yeah, I grew up in the church and went to church but I knew nothing about the Lord. I had no idea what it meant about walking in faith.”
He continues, “So sometimes people don’t understand why you’re looking. They think you’ve got everything, but God is no respecter of persons.”
So how did Lou turn his life around?
Lou says, “Well, you had to come clean. You had to come clean to walk with the Lord. You just gotta get into the Word. Those things that hold you back, you gotta peel ‘em off you and let those things fall apart and fall off to the side. It’s hard to do. You just don’t do ‘em over night; you gotta surround yourself with people who walk in faith.”
Jackie says, “Our desire to please the Lord keeps us in check, because we don’t want to step out of the will of the Lord.”
Lou’s the first one to admit living the Christian life is a day-by-day challenge… but a challenge for which God equips us.
“I call it a ‘Holy Ghost-Filled Alarm Clock’ that goes off whenever my old lifestyle tries to re-enter,” he says. “Your old lifestyle’s not going away; it’s going to be around you for a long time. But you’ll find it has no room to enter. You won’t allow it to enter based on this alarm clock because the alarm clock will sound off. Then you’re able to walk in the Spirit a lot easier than if you didn’t have that clock.”
So Lou and Jackie have been walking in the Spirit and encouraging each other for years. Their desire to serve Christ has them travelling and speaking all over the country. To this couple, it’s simply what the Lord would have them do.
“God has given us the ability to just reveal Him,” Jackie says. “And that’s what people are meeting. They fall in love with Lou Brock, but it’s the Jesus in Lou Brock. It’s hard for me to perceive how people can just see him as a baseball player because his faith is the biggest part of him.”
“You can’t hide God in you,” says Lou. “God was not meant to become part of you, and you hide out in the closet. I don’t think He wanted that. I think He wanted people to see the Christ in you that reflects Him.”
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