Seek ye first the kingdom of God: Darryl Strawberry’s story
By Jackie Morfesis
We are in a season of joy. Joy that our God sent our Lord and Savior to us. Joy that the Christmas story is not a work of fiction, but alive in the hearts of all believers. Joy that we are called to be the hands and feet of our Lord. Joy that we are witness to our Lord in the testimonies of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I had such an opportunity when I recently attended the 21st Annual Charleston Leadership Prayer Breakfast featuring Darryl Strawberry. We may know him from his many accomplishments as a stellar athlete, a legend in the game of baseball. However, we also learned that he was called to be so much more when God brought his life from ashes to resurrected beauty and light beyond compare.
Mr. Strawberry shared the loneliness and loss that existed when he was living on what appeared to be “the top of the mountain” during his fame and fortune. He had every earthly desire fulfilled but he experienced an emptiness that could only be healed and filled by God. He traveled through many dark personal tunnels, earthly tunnels that were painful and indicative of not only his physical but spiritual brokenness.
Yet, his story did not end in the shadows. With the love and support of those who cared for his soul, not only his worldly successes, he was also able to be transformed into the man whom God desired for his life. His story of redemption was awe inspiring, edifying and fortifying to those in attendance. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
With the utmost humility, honesty and courage, Mr. Strawberry laid his life bare in front of us. He stressed an eternal truth that resonates to anyone who has suffered and called on the Lord, “Everything that is killing me Jesus already killed it at the cross.” As it is written: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
A theme of Mr. Strawberry’s teaching is that “we do not look to our worldly success for our spiritual worth.” So often, even as faithful, we believe our identity is bound up with our earthly accomplishments; however, when our speaker embraced his Savior, Jesus showed him what a lasting mountain top experience is. We believe our testimony is telling the world how great and successful we are or about what we have achieved financially. This cannot be further from the truth.
As was said to us at the Prayer Breakfast, “Our tests are our testimony.” We aren’t here to boast to the world or be braggadocios, we are here to testify to what God has done for us, how God has pulled us up from the ashes of our lives. We are here to tell the world what a great and awesome God we serve. We are here to seek first the kingdom of God. “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
I was also moved by the power and purity of his message. He was clear that his faith was anchored in God’s Holy Word, and in his personal relationship with Jesus. As he said: “Christ is not coming back for a white person, nor coming back for a black person, a Spanish person or an Asian person. He’s coming back for a holy person.” We so often fall into the trap of politicizing our faith, of putting everything before our faith, when God is the rock and anchor of our lives from which all else is built.
There are times when someone speaks your language. This was one of those times. The reason he spoke my language is because he too, loved God and loved His Holy Word. He reminded us that “Christians need to be bold about the gospel.”
I am so grateful for this wonderful annual event, and for those like Darryl Strawberry who not only identify as Christian, but live the faith walk in their every step. He is a true man of God, an ordained minister, a teacher and an author. His courage, his Light of the Holy Spirit, and his faith were shining as an example to us all of how God will work in our lives if we only allow Him. This is the joy that we live as Christians. Not only in the season of joy, but every single day.
Jackie Morfesis is an author, advocate and creative artist. She holds a BFA in fine arts and an MA in liberal studies and is a former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to Greece. She is a Greek Orthodox Christian and devoted to spiritual matters.