Some stories remind us that no matter how tough life gets, how big the giants are, how impossible our circumstances appear, God has the power to intervene and write a better story for our future.
Darryl Strawberry was a four-time World Series winner and an eight-time MLB All-Star, but ultimately success, fame, and fortune didn’t satisfy. He had everything that most of us dream of—all of the things that we think would make us happy—and yet he was miserable and unfulfilled.
What is something you wanted, and got, but that didn’t end up being as satisfying as you thought it would be?
Darryl talked about his life growing up. He came from a dysfunctional home. When he was 13, his dad threatened to kill his entire family. He channeled this pain into baseball. It drove him to be great. But in the midst of all of his success he turned to drugs. The greatness wasn’t enough.
The truth is, the stuff we think will satisfy us doesn’t ultimately. A recent survey indicates that nearly half of homeowners have some regrets about their home purchase. We spend our lives striving for things that don’t—can’t—satisfy us.
Ultimately drugs, cancer, and run-ins with the law destroyed his career and his marriage… and almost destroyed him.
Darryl shared about how he accepted Jesus at a Christian conference his wife had invited him to while he was playing for the Dodgers in the early 90s, but he didn’t allow Jesus to actually transform him. He talked about how he never gave himself fully to God. He believed but didn’t truly follow Jesus, didn’t trust enough to allow Jesus to transform him.
As time passed Darryl lost his mom. His drug habit resurfaced, and it began to affect his marriage.
Some of us have dramatic stories that involve drugs or alcohol or run-ins with the law. For others of us our journeys have (gratefully) been less exciting. But all of us are in process.
We too often fall into the trap of thinking, “I’m a good person.” And maybe that’s true to a degree. Maybe you’re not just an awful person who goes around hurting other people intentionally, but we all need to be transformed.
Maybe you have a quick temper and respond to people with sharp words rather than kindness. Maybe you’re jealous of what others have. Perhaps your greedy. It could be that you’re always stressed out and harried. You might be proud and think more of yourself than you should. Maybe you’re too apt to walk by someone in need without stopping to help. None of us are perfect. We all need to allow Jesus to transform us.
What has this process of transformation looked like in your life? Is it just beginning? Has it been going on awhile? Do you need to begin to allow Jesus to transform your life?
Darryl used the word discipleship a few times. Discipleship is the process by which we are transformed. We gradually become more and more like the person we’re following. You could actually be a disciple of anyone. If you wanted to be a pop star, you might become a disciple of Taylor Swift. If you wanted to be an NBA player, you might become a disciple of Kobe Bryant.
Being a Christ-follower means becoming a disciple of Jesus. Usually this involves another person, someone who has been following Jesus faithfully for a longer time than you have, who helps to show you and teach you what it looks like to become like Jesus. This is someone who you get to know and who gets to know you personally. It isn’t the pastor who preaches on stage or the person whose life you admire from afar. Discipleship involves time and relationship.
Discipleship is a big part of the reason that we have small groups at Eastside. It is our hope that these kinds of discipleship relationships form in the context of small groups.
Is there anyone who is a little further along in his or her relationship with Jesus who has been instrumental in your spiritual journey? If so, who? How did your relationship with that person develop? What was it about that relationship that impacted you so deeply?
Do you have someone like that in your life now? If not, who is someone who you might want to have that kind of relationship with? If you can’t think of anyone, what is something you can do to foster that kind of relationship?
Who are you discipling currently? If there isn’t anyone, who is someone who you might begin discipling? Consider the people who you already have influence with. When you speak, who listens? Who pays attention?
As Darryl continued to share his story, he spoke about how the woman who is now his wife pursued him, not romantically but as a friend, how she went into drug houses to pull him out, how she wouldn’t give up on him, how she wouldn’t let him slide into drugs, darkness, and despair.
Who might God be calling you to pursue? Maybe it’s someone who is in desperate circumstances, someone who needs to be introduced to Jesus, or an estranged family member.
What made Darryl’s message so powerful this weekend was that it was based on his experience, on his life. There’s something powerful that happens when we share our stories, our personal and faith journeys with each other. As a group, go around the circle and share with one another how God made himself real to you, when you truly owned your faith.
This might be the story of when you first came to believe in Jesus. But for many of us, these are different stories. If you came to believe in Jesus as a young child, there was likely a time later when you truly owned your faith. Even though he was an adult, God made himself real to Darryl not when he came to believe in Jesus at a conference but when God transformed his life, helping him to overcome his addictions.
If you don’t have time for everyone to share with your entire group together. Break up into smaller groups of 2-5 to share these stories.
Discipleship is a lifelong process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you can’t rush it. But you can be intentional about it. This week, take an intentional step to develop a discipleship relationship.
Get together with someone you are considering discipling or who you might want to ask to disciple you. It could be over lunch or coffee. It might be inviting the person to help you with a project or offering to help them with something.
Depending on your level of relationship with that person, you might go ahead and ask them to begin investing in you (or if they would be interested in you investing in them), or you might just spend some time building your relationship. Discipleship isn’t a quick fix, it’s a long-term investment.
Report back to the group next week how this went.