Good Friday, Bad Pitches, and New Identity
Posted on March 30 2018
I was reflecting on Good Friday this morning and wanted to share a story with you all.
It was during my junior year, in the middle of the worst season of my career, that I began making original artwork from used baseballs.
The year was 2002 and I was a southpaw relief pitcher at Truman State University, a D-2 program in Kirksville, Missouri. I had finished my sophomore year with a team best 2.31 ERA and our coach had high hopes for me the following season. But baseball can be a very humbling game.
When junior year came, I couldn’t throw strikes to save my life. And the more I thought about my need to perform better and to hit my spots, the more errant my pitches. Long story short, I didn’t make the travelling squad and ended up retiring after that season. With my whole identity wrapped up in being a ballplayer, it was a very difficult time in my life that also led to poor decisions off the field.
Looking back, I’ve come to appreciate that life takes us through similar rough spots. We go through horrendous seasons where the wheels seem to fall off no matter how hard we try to pick up the pieces. Friends let us down. Relationships end. Cancer shows up. Trump and Hillary are the best options. Where do you turn when life cuts you from the traveling squad? When you can’t throw strikes? When you’re searching for your identity?
For me, I turn to the tattered seams of the cross.
I’ve learned that life is lived best at the foot of the cross because there, in the shadow of the cross, Hope grows from failure. Through failure. Despite failure. And this is what makes the message of Good Friday so good. The message of the cross is that we are loved by a God willing to leave His traveling team to join us on the bench. The message of the cross is that we have a God who can relate to failure; to brokenness; to all-around crappy circumstances. The message of the cross is that our failures will never define who we are because our season isn’t based on what we do, but rather what He’s done. The message of the cross is that we are loved even when we feel unlovable; unusable; and incapable.
Reflecting back at that time in my life, I felt a connection to the old tattered baseballs I was using in my artwork – washed up, tattered, and waterlogged. But God had a plan to keep me connected to the game in a way I never thought possible.
It was out of this brokenness that Baseball Seams Co. was born. I think about the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
One of the many pieces of artwork we make are crosses from the tattered seams of used baseballs, where I have the opportunity to inscribe bible verses and words of encouragement to hundreds of baseball fans each year. The inscriptions are handwritten at the foot of the cross. To view our cross collection, click here.
From all of us at Baseball Seams Co., we hope you and your families have a Happy Easter!
Nathan Rueckert, Founder & Artist
Baseball Seams Co.