Nick Ahmed is known as one of Major League Baseball's top defensive players, but six years ago, he was a struggling minor leaguer, unsure what the future held.
Then he gave his life to Christ.
Ahmed, a shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks and a two-time Gold Glove winner, said recently during a “Breakfast & Baseball” speech at Hillside Community Church in Bristol, Conn., that his outlook on his career and life changed during an encounter with God on a hot and muggy night in Mobile, Ala. – right in the middle of a minor league game.
LISTEN: Gold Glove shortstop @nickahmed13 of the Diamondbacks shares a portion of his testimony recently in Connecticut at @Hillsidebristol church. pic.twitter.com/NQdl0ORjzR— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) December 24, 2019
“The first two at-bats were terrible. I strike out. I ground into a double play. I'm like, 'Here we go again.' I [had] all this fear and anxiety and worry about my dream being ripped away from me. ... Every day I showed up to the ballpark, I was like, 'Man, this is going to be my last game. I'm going to fail again. The next day I'm going to get released. I'm going to have to give up on my dream and it's going to be over.'”
But between the fourth and fifth innings, he handed his career to God.
“I [ran] out to play shortstop, play defense, and for whatever reason I just stood there, and I didn't take the two or three ground balls that the infielders take to warm up between innings,” Ahmed said. “I just turned around. I faced the outfield. I closed my eyes and at that moment right there in the middle of the game on the field, during a baseball game. I said, 'God I'm giving my life to You. I'm tired of doing it my own way. I repent of all my sins.'”
Up until that moment in his life, Ahmed had made baseball an “idol,” he said.
“I'm going to do life your way,” he remembers praying, “and whatever You have for me – whether that's baseball for another 15 years or that's no more baseball ever … I'm going to give that to You, and if you're going to take that away, cool, I'm following You. I'm doing life your way.”
“And right at that moment I felt the Holy Spirit come through me and just give me the peace that I never had before,” Ahmed said. “I can't explain it. I can't tell you why it happened at that certain day. There were so many events that drew me to that one spot. At that moment I just started following God and I said, 'I'm going to do life your way. I'm going to walk with You. I'm going to follow You.”
This doesn't mean Ahmed's life has been free of troubles, but “everything on the inside has been different.”
“I still go through ups and downs, but I'm not riding this huge roller coaster of extreme highs and extreme lows and having no peace and no joy. … My circumstances still stink sometimes,” he said. “I've gone through a lot of different things. I had four surgeries in a 13-month period. My wife and I had a miscarriage; we lost the baby. Three of my best friends that I played with the last three years have all left my team. I'm dealing with life and [bad things] still happen. We're not immune to life. But now I have Jesus,” Ahmed proclaimed.
Ahmed first played for the Diamondbacks in 2014. He won a Gold Glove in 2018 and 2019. Last season, he batted a career-best with a batting average of .254.
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Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Thearon W Henderson/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.