Cover Story

Public profession

"Public profession" Continued...

Issue: "Curt Schilling: Never hide," March 19, 2005

No baseball team had ever come from so far behind to win, but the Red Sox pulled out dramatic extra-inning victories in the fourth and fifth games, and an experimental medical procedure that stitched a tendon to his skin gave Mr. Schilling the possibility of pitching again. But the procedure had been tried before only on cadavers, and no one knew whether he would be able to put pressure on his ankle, let alone throw balls by hitters primed to score runs in a New York minute.

Several hours before the evening game he talked with Pastor Riconda and others about how to pray in this situation and what to pray for. As both men recall, he resolved not to pray to win (although he desired that) but for the strength to go out and compete, for the understanding that whatever he did would be because of God's strength and not his own, and for the willingness if there was success to give credit where credit was due.

He strode to the mound in Yankee Stadium and kept going for not just one excellent inning but seven, giving up only four hits and leaving the field with a bleeding suture but a 4-1 lead. The Red Sox held on to win, and afterward he told interviewers, "I've got to say, I became a Christian seven years ago, and I've never in my life been touched by God as I was tonight. . . . I tried to go out and do it myself in Game 1, and you saw what happened. Tonight was God's work on the mound. . . . God did something amazing."

When pitcher and pastor spoke the next day, Mr. Riconda says Mr. Schilling "was still ecstatic about feeling God's presence." Five days later it was time to try again, in the second game of the World Series. That morning the pitcher woke up unable to walk. When he arrived at Fenway Park, the Red Sox medical staff examined his ankle and found that one suture had nicked a nerve. They fixed it so the patient could now walk-but could he pitch? "I went to the Lord for help, because I knew, again, I wasn't going to be able to do this myself."

Minutes before the game he still didn't know what he could do, but "God got me out there." Again he pitched well, again with blood on his sock, again the Red Sox won-and went on to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Afterward he told reporters, "If you haven't checked it out, read Philippians 4:13. ['I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.'] I can't do anything these days without having that reverberate in my head."

Four months later, eating dessert and thinking about going so public with his belief, Mr. Schilling said, "I've learned that you should never hide your faith. I had wasted seven years. People didn't know." And yet, in God's providence, maybe the timing was right. Had the new Christian gone public earlier, he might have been besieged by unhelpful clerical hangers-on, or made the dumb comments that many immature Christians make. He wouldn't have had the credibility that at least a few years of perseverance bring-and the drama of his astounding performance in crucial games gave his fresh testimony wider dissemination than it would have had at any other time.

Now, he reflects about going public: "The response was overwhelming, and all of it was positive." What, no negative letters? "Of course, but the negative responses reinforce what the Bible teaches, that there is hatred of Christ. So even that is positive."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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