I grew up in Detroit but traveled around with my family as my dad played and managed in professional baseball until I was 16. My own professional baseball career started at 18 and brought me to Fort Worth to play for the Fort Worth Cats where I met Heather, my wife now of 14 years. We have three daughters, Harper Grace, Hollis Jane, and Hadden Faith.
In 2005, I was in Atlantic City, playing professional baseball, not happy at all with where I was in baseball, in a struggling marriage, just limping along unable to see the light of the glories and beauties that God had waiting for us at the end of the dark tunnel as I dragged my feet along, head down. I had a truncated view of the Christian life and the Christian God—it wasn’t a happy time, though I was in a place marketing itself as “America’s Favorite Playground.”
One morning, across the street from our rented guest house on Ventnor Beach, I sat on the boardwalk looking out over the waves upon waves of the Atlantic. I stopped reading my bible and prayed one of those frustrated prayers. That prayer where you stop filtering requests or petitions through your Christianese or false piety, and, in Davidic manner (“How long O Lord!”), just plead honestly with the God of all those waves. You know the kind, right? I prayed and asked God a frightening question now that I think back on it.
“What do I get with all this Christian stuff!?”
It’s frightening because my theology at the time—at least in practice—was a sort of quasi-moralistic, emotive, God-is-my-genie-lifecoach kind of thing. Meaning, He could very well have answered, “I have a lot of great stuff for you, but you are not doing things right. C’mon, Jim, get better, and then I will reward you. I’ll help.” And that wouldn’t have been freeing at all. Tightening the chains and checking the locks, God would have crushed any wick I had left, the bruised reed that I was.
But He didn’t answer me that way. He didn’t even light me up with a well-needed and well-deserved rebuke. Instead, with the strength of an ocean’s undercurrent and the gentleness of the blowing wind coming off the water, He spoke:
“You get Me.”
After eight years of professional baseball I retired and entered vocational ministry. After two years as a resident church-planting intern with Cityview Church in North Fort Worth, my wife and I started The Paradox Church in our living room with eight people and we launched in January of 2011.
The Paradox Church is an Acts 29 Network church called to “Saturate Fort Worth with the glory and grace of Jesus.”