Dr. Clinton: Hi everyone. This is Dr. Tim Clinton, Executive Director of the James Dobson Family Institute, and you're tuned into Family Talk. Joining me today is my guest, Baseball Hall of Famer Darryl Strawberry. Darryl's a baseball legend, and his many accomplishments in the major leagues include four World Series titles, eight All-Star game appearances, and a nomination to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Though Darryl was extremely successful in his career, his personal life was also plagued with addictions, abuse, divorces, cancer, jail time, and other issues. Darryl finally found true redemption and restoration in Jesus Christ.
Today, Darryl's purpose and passion are serving the Lord Jesus Christ by traveling the country, and speaking a message of hope and restoration through the power of the gospel. Darryl's the author of numerous books, including The New York Times' bestseller Straw: Finding My Way, and The Imperfect Marriage: Help for Those Who Think It's Over he wrote with his wife, Tracy. His newest book, Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life, is the topic of our conversation today. In 2011, Darryl and Tracy founded Strawberry Ministries, and they use their global reach to restore the multitudes through spiritual and practical life applications. Today, if you think it's too late, your life's a total sham, God could never use you, fix you, or call you, you've checked into the right place. Darryl, thank you so much for joining us today.
Darryl Strawberry: Thanks for having me, Tim. It's great to be with you.
Dr. Clinton: Darryl, as we get started, congrats on your new book, Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life. Now what I love about it, it's the message of hope, that it doesn't matter where we've been, what we're going through, God is in the midst of it, and he'll see us through. Darryl, you certainly understand that message, don't you?
Darryl Strawberry: I understand it clear. I think we all should. After experiencing the things we experience in life, we should understand the importance of who God is and how God waits for you. It doesn't matter what you've been through. You're not a mistake. We just made a bunch of mistakes. All you have to do is get up and clean yourself off, repent, turn from the wicked ways. He changes everything about you. The one thing I love about God, Dr. Tim, is he looks to change the heart of a man. If he can change your heart, he can change everything about you, because that's where the enemy lies inside all of us, deceiving us in our heart. Once we allow our heart to be well, then we're able to do everything that God created us for.
Dr. Clinton: Yeah. Darryl, what a storied baseball career. I was reading a little bit about your past and all your accolades. You used to hit some bomb home runs. It's said that you hit a ball in Olympic Stadium, Darryl, that actually hit the ceiling. Is that true?
Darryl Strawberry: I did. That was opening day. I hit two home runs that day. That just happened to be the second home run. The first home run I hit in that ball game. The second home run I hit off of St. Claire, and it hit the top of the ceiling. It was just a remarkable home run. I never could imagine myself hitting the ball that far. I just actually got a good swing on it, and it went straight up. Had it not been for the cover of the roof, they were talking about the ball probably would have been out of the stadium.
Dr. Clinton: Oh my goodness.
Darryl Strawberry: It's a home run that I do remember, I will remember, for a very long time.
Dr. Clinton: Darryl also had eight All-Star game appearances, four World Series rings. That means championships. Darryl, so much in your career. A memory or two that really stands out up front here, just share with us? It's imprinted in your brain.
Darryl Strawberry: I just think it's the good memories of winning, because I had so many moments in baseball. I think when a player thinks about moments, you think about the importance of what a team concept is all about in winning. It's very hard to bring guys together, to be able to play six months out of a year, go through spring training, go through the hard, hard times of getting ready and everything, and then finding out who are you, your identity, or who you are. We had to do that, and '86 was the year. That was my first year of winning, but I was young. I thought it was going to happen forever, but it doesn't happen forever. You think it will. Just that team we had, having Gary Carter come over and be a big part of our team. He just gave us a tremendous boost, and it takes players. It takes every player to play his part, and when we got Carter, we just knew that we were headed in the right direction, and we had a chance to win.
Dr. Clinton: Darryl, your life story also has a real twist to it. You went down a pretty dark road, Darryl. I know in your new book you talk about how seasons change, and you reference Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:1-8, "There's a time for every season under the sun." This was a really broken, desperate piece of your life. Darryl, do you mind just telling us a little bit about maybe how you grew up, and how a lot of that maybe fed into some of the decisions, bad choices, misfortunes that came your way?
Darryl Strawberry: Well, it's a part of growing up in a dysfunctional home, raging alcoholic father and dysfunction. You're broken from the beginning. Before I ever put the uniform on, I was already broken. My pain led me to my greatness, and my greatness would eventually lead me to my destructive behavior. It doesn't matter who you are; black, white, rich, poor. You're brokenness is real, and it sits on the inside. I always say, "Lawlessness brings about a broken generation," and I was no different than anybody else. I think what happened was my life just played out more because I was in the public eye, and I was this big star playing major league baseball. I had so much talent, and everybody was wondering, "Well, what's wrong? What's wrong with him?"
I was hurting. I was empty. The fame and the fortune ... Money never made me well. The fortune of being famous never made me well in the midst of all that stuff. I was always searching about being well, because my father had rejected me and said I was nothing, so I always believed it. Playing baseball was just my great outlet, but I was still broken, and I had all these issues. I grew up in this heathen lifestyle. I had women all over the place trying to fill the empty void on the inside. I was drinking and drugging, trying to fill all these empty voids on the inside of me, and it never worked. It just spiraled down. You just keep going down, and for the wages of sin is death. I was in that place too, for the wages of sin. I was dying in my sinful ways, and it wasn't until I started turning the corner and making a real commitment for myself to follow God's principles, and live according to the biblical principles.
Dr. Clinton: Darryl, I know in a lot of the stories that you read about people, when they're broken and desperate, they find God. You know that? God's a path to hopefully some type of new life, but in your life, Darryl, finding God is a whole lot different. You found God. There's something that really changed. Darryl, what really changed? What was different this time, say, than some of the other early commitments maybe, or thoughts you had about making a change and they weren't working?
Darryl Strawberry: Well, I like that point when you say finding God. The problem is, with so many of us, God has never been lost. The problem is, is that we're lost. He's always been there. It's not until you enter in with Him that you will truly know Him. I think so many of us know Him on the surface and know his name, but we don't know Him because we never get into the relationship with Him.
I was no different than anybody else's struggle, and say, "Well, I know God." Well, I know his name, but I didn't know Him, because when you come to the place of knowing Him, it's a different way that you see God. You see Him as a loving, kind, compassionate, peaceful, joyful person. You don't see Him as, well, I've got to be this way. No, He does not say you've got to be this way; He's saying, "Learn to be holy and follow these principles, and learn to live this way. I'm not going to condemn you. I'm not going to point my finger at you like everybody else will when you fall short," because we all will fall short. "Pick yourself up and turn around."
That's what it was for me. I finally decided that I was going to get rid of all these worldly things. I didn't want more fame. I didn't want more success, money, and all that stuff. I had all that. All that was meaningless. It doesn't mean nothing to me. I wanted Him. I wanted to know Him, and I wanted to know that I could put my trust in Him. Not in myself, but I needed to put my trust in God, that I would give my life to Him, and He would use my life for His good. Not for my good, but for His good. When you start understanding God that way, that's how God really works. He uses your life for His good. When you get out of the way and you don't make it about your own ego, God's got a great way of utilizing you in such a way that you could never imagine the platform that He will give for you. He will put it there for you to win souls.
I'm a big fan of Billy Graham. I like a lot of ministers, but Billy Graham is my favorite, because when I saw him preach, I saw him preach to the heart of the people, to help people to repent and come back. That's so amazing, and that's what we've gotten away from in our society. I think that's why we see so many people broken, and don't really know God.
Dr. Clinton: You're listening to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I'm Dr. Tim Clinton. Our special guest today, major league baseball legend Darryl Strawberry. He has a brand new book out called Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life. Darryl, in your book it's obvious and it makes sense that you would use baseball as your story, in the backdrop of this, about battling your way through. Baseball, one of the interesting things about baseball, and people may or may not know this, is you have to become a master at handling adversity in life. You fail, what, seven out of 10 times at the plate, Darryl, and you're a superstar. If you're hitting 300, you're a pretty good ballplayer.
Darryl, in this piece of battling through life, everybody hits those moments where it's not the way it's supposed to be. When you're in a slump, how about that? When you're not hitting the ball like you should, Darryl. You chronicle for us, you take men in particular, but you take us all on a journey of what happened in your life. Darryl, tell us how you laid out the book. I want to start with God's grace, because that's the foundation of what you talked about, turning your season, your life around.
Darryl Strawberry: No question, Dr. Tim, it is the key to everything, to understand grace. We as people, I think a lot of times, don't understand grace. We take it, but we don't understand it. Grace is something that you don't deserve, and He gives it to you anyway. You see yourself with all these broken pieces of your life, and understanding grace. You talk about Second Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness," so we're weak. What is He telling me? He's telling me that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I need to allow his strength to work instead of me dealing with the weakness of who I am. When I do that, that means I understand that I don't deserve it, but He's given it to me, so I might as well utilize the grace that He's given to me, and be thankful for the grace.
This is what happens in so many lives that end up transformed. They get out of the way, and they let God's strength be everything in their life. They don't take it for granted, but see, Dr. Tim, as people, we have a tendency of taking things for granted with God and just think, "Well, He's going to forgive me." No, that's not always the case. Yeah, He's going to forgive you, but also He's going to punish you sometimes, and He's going to let you go through that hard season. That's what I had to go through. I had to go through those hard seasons and those dark seasons. People see me today and they think, wow, this guy is totally different, but you don't realize that God has sat me for seven years. He sat me for seven years being discipled, so I knew I would be equipped. I would no longer have a choke hold on my neck when I get in the poor pit, and the devil's got a choke hold on you because he knows that you're not preaching the truth. He knows that you're not living the truth.
That's the thing I didn't want to be anymore. I didn't want to be a hypocrite anymore. I wanted to live out the principles the way that we're all capable of living on. Dr. Tim, I'm not talking about being perfect; none of us are perfect. He's not talking about perfect people. We've all got broken pieces, but He says, "Can you follow these principles? Can you lead others through the hard times of life, and show them that I am God?" Not us being God, "but show them that I am God."
Dr. Clinton: You know, Darryl, we all, according to the book of Hebrews, battle with sin. We all have that besetting sin that really messes with us. You talked about, in this chapter on grace, how you had everything, but you had nothing. Sin is what intoxicated you, Darryl. You talked about wealth and fame, and how it was a destructive path for you. Can you share a little bit more about that?
Darryl Strawberry: Yeah, because it's very easy when you have everything, when you don't have to worry about finances, and you don't have to worry about living quarters and stuff like that. Who do you lean on? You don't lean on anybody but your stuff, because you have all the needs there. But when you don't have those things, who do you lean on? That's what it was for me. That was the turn of my life, because I had all these earthly things. I was just like King Solomon. He had everything, but he goes on to say it's meaningless under the sun without God. How could a man have such great wisdom and knowledge, and fall through the cracks? You know what? What happens to all of us, our flesh gets in the way, and we want more of this and we want more of that. We don't realize that somewhere down the line, it's going to destroy us. That's what happened to King Solomon, having his way of getting what he wanted.
What I remember reading the book of Ecclesiastes, and I was just thinking about how many times in the first three chapters he said, "I." He was talking about himself. 46 times I circled "I." He was talking about himself. I built this, I had this. I did this. Had he stayed on the course of saying, "God built this for me," I wouldn't have never got in the way in thinking it was me.
That's what happened in me and my baseball career. I got in the way thinking it was me, until God sat me for those seven years, and made me realize that it's no longer about me. It's about Him. It's about His will. It's about His way. It's about His work. It's about loving people, and it's about speaking life. When you get to that place, you get that "I" out of the way. See, there's no "I" in team. There's I in I when we build that around ourselves. I learned that process when I was a team player, that it was all about the team. It was never I, and it's the same thing in our everyday life, when we get to that place of removing I out of the way and say, "If it's God's will for me to be successful and be blessed, then so be it, but if not, that's not my number one goal." My number one goal is to be holy and live a righteous life, according to the biblical principles, and love people, just like God loved us, because Jesus loved us first.
Dr. Clinton: I think in scripture, Darryl, that it's idolatry, what we're talking about here. First, John 5:21, "Little children, keep yourself from idols." It's those things that we begin to reach for in our everyday life, trying to satisfy the emptiness or the brokenness in our own soul. Maybe it's a painful past, maybe it's whatever that has just left us begging for more, but it never satisfies our yearning. It never does.
Darryl Strawberry: Dr. Tim, it never will. Trust me. It will never satisfy. See, because what we don't understand, like King Solomon said before too, he said that emptiness on the inside of every last one of us, that empty void and that empty place, it's a place that was created by God when He created us, that He's the only one who can feel it. We try to fill it with more of this and more of that, and feel better, and it only satisfies you for a moment. Then you'd be back, "Well, I need something new."
I've been there and done that so many times, but see today, it's the word. It's the joy, the joy of the Lord is my strength. It's everything that I do when I get up in the morning, and when I get up to worship. I get up to worship God. I'm out of myself. Those are the things that bring everlasting joy. That keeps me joyful each day, because I'm not consumed with trying to create more stuff around me, and be in front of more people to say look at who I am, and look at what I have. No. I think that's why God gave me a book. I wrote this book before the pandemic was even here, before COVID-19 was even here. The Holy Spirit gave me the title. I said, "Well, what's the title?"
He said, "Turn your season around."
Little did I know that we would all be in a place where we'd have to turn our season around, and we would have to really look high to the hill and say, "God, you still sit on the throne. You still control all of this. Why are we going so crazy about what's happening? You know what's going to happen, and you knew it was going to happen before it happened." I'm just grateful that God would use me and utilize my gift that He has given me to speak life into people, and say, "Hey, we're going to have to turn our season around from all this, everything that's happened in this country over the last year or so."
Dr. Clinton: Darryl, throughout your process of brokenness in that darkness, God was knocking on your heart's door. You tell a little story about being in the Betty Ford Clinic, and your dad came to visit you. That was a pretty rough visit. Darryl, do you mind sharing some of what happened there?
Darryl Strawberry: Yeah. It was a pretty tough visit, you know what I mean? I'm struggling in life. I'm broken and hurting, and I'm sitting right in front of him. You know we're having this conversation on a family day, just to talk about the hurt. He sat there, and just made it like he don't even understand what I'm talking about. He don't remember none of it. It was heartbreaking, it was heartbreaking.
I went on to hate him for years and stuff like that, and then God would eventually change me. God would eventually confront me. How dare I not go forgive him? He has forgiven me, because the forgiveness really wasn't about my father; the forgiveness was for me, God was saying. So many of us end up stuck in these places with people in relationships, wondering why we're still not victorious, and wondering why I'm still living in this fantasy. I don't live in this fantasy no more; I live in this freedom. I live in this freedom of Christ.
I always wanted to be in this place, but Dr. Tim, I'm in this place now because the forgiveness that I gave to my father set me free forever. I was wondering why I was so in bondage and still hurting, even though I was preaching the gospel. I thought I was free, but God says, "No, you was not free. You wasn't free until you let him go, until you released him and moved forward." Once I finally released him and moved forward, there was the freedom that I always was looking for, the freedom to just be the person that God had created.
You don't have to have this wall up anymore, and pretend you have it all together. You know what? None of us have it all together. The only one that had it all together was Jesus. Why are the rest of us are sitting here pretending we have it all together? We don't. We will never have it all together, and Jesus is the only one that has it all together. His day of waiting upon you will be the day that you will enter into the kingdom. Your life will no longer be here, and you will hopefully hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Those are the kinds of stuff that you want to hear at your life. You don't want to hear the question from God, "I gave you every opportunity down there, and you just squandered it because you were about yourself and your egos and your pride, and all the selfishness that kept you there." Dr. Tim, in this society, this stuff can keep you stuck. It can keep you from really moving into the destiny that God truly has for you.
Dr. Clinton: Darryl, the only way you were able to offer that grace to your father, that forgiveness, was because you were anchored yourself in God's grace. Somewhere, you really believed that God loved you, that He forgave you, and that you could have a newness of life, Darryl. That's what began to sow the seeds of turning your season around, your life around. I want you to share with people right now. Tell them about the Jesus you met, and who He is to you right now.
Darryl Strawberry: Yeah. That's very powerful. When I think about Jesus, there is nothing else greater. There's no one greater. When you think about him going to the cross in Calgary and shedding his blood for you, for you: oh, filthy sinner, like me, He would go to a cross and He would shed his blood. He would go to a tomb, and then early Sunday morning He would get up, and He would get up with all power because He would be resurrected. He spared all of us to have this life, and have it more abundantly. When I think about this Jesus, I don't want anything else. Once I got a taste of Jesus, once I knew the cross, once I knew the symbol of the cross and that blood on the cross, that blood comes from a man with no sin. All the rest of us are sinners. All of us will fall short.
When you can finally come to that place and understand that that's who you are, and you have met Jesus, you have met a man who is sinless, who is holy, who is righteous, who will spare you, who will save you, who will give you grace and mercy over and over that you don't deserve, and He loves you right where you're at, and He allows you to come to be a part of him, and a part of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of God is far greater than anything that I've ever achieved on this earthly part of my life.
I've had every home. I've had every car. I've had every bank account full of money and stuff, but I have never experienced what I feel from the love that Jesus gives me daily to rise up, and be a great man of faith. That is the greatest gift one can give to him. When you experience that, Dr. Tim, you don't need anything else. You don't need to experience anything else. You experienced the love of the Messiah, the One and only, the great I Am, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, Jesus himself. What else do you need?
Dr. Clinton: Wow. We're talking today about Darryl Strawberry, his life story. He has a brand new book out called Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life. Darryl, we have run out of time, but I want to ask if you're okay staying around, I want to do a part two, day two of this. We're going to talk more about the steps that God took you on to help turn your life, your season around, Darryl. If you're okay with that, we'd be honored to have you back tomorrow, if you'd join us?
Darryl Strawberry: I'm good with that, brother.
Roger Marsh: Well, this is Roger Marsh. Be sure to join us again tomorrow for the remainder of this touching testimony. As an avid baseball fan myself, I really enjoyed Darryl Strawberry's story. It's inspiring to hear about the joy he has found in Jesus Christ, despite his resounding success on the baseball diamond. You can learn more about Darryl Strawberry, his thriving organization, and his new book by visiting today's broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org. That's drjamesdobson.org, and then tap on the broadcast icon at the top of the page.
Thanks so much for tuning into this broadcast, and for your consistent prayer and financial support of this ministry. The James Dobson Family Institute is entirely supported by listeners just like you. Your faithful generosity, especially in 2020, has allowed us to continue ministering to families all around the world and into 2021, where we are right now. If you'd like to partner with us, go to drjamesdobson.org and learn how you can give a gift online. That's drjamesdobson.org, or call (877) 732-6825. That's (877) 732-6825. Please know how much we appreciate your support and assistance. Tomorrow, you'll hear the conclusion of Dr. Tim Clinton's interview with baseball icon Darryl Strawberry. You won't want to miss that broadcast, coming up next time right here on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.
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