Death is no respecter of persons! It comes stalking everyone. Some sooner, some later. In the last few days two friends from the baseball world bid this world farewell.
Johnny Oates had been battling brain cancer for several years. He passed away the day before Christmas. The former major league ballplayer and manager is survived by his wife Gloria and three children. Johnny was always an encouragement to me over the years. I had many visits to his manager’s office in the visitors’ clubhouse in Toronto. He managed the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers. He loved the Lord and was a supporter of the Lord’s work including Epistle Sports Ministries. Years ago I wrote him a note of encouragement on the last weekend of the season. The Orioles had just been eliminated from the pennant race by the Blue Jays. Many seasons later he pulled that same letter out of his briefcase and told me what a blessing it had been to receive it.
Please keep Gloria and the children in your prayers.
Doug Ault established himself as the first Toronto Blue Jay hero on the Opening Day of Blue Jay history back on April 7th, 1977. He hit two home runs in that first-ever game. The following season he was down in Triple A in Syracuse but the chapels in Toronto had made such an impact on him that he invited me to come to Syracuse to get them started there. My grown sons, Tim and Stephen, will always remember that first trip south of the border. They would have only been nine and eight years old then. Doug invited us back to their apartment and his wife Julie prepared a home-cooked southern meal that we’ll never forget. The gravy was particularly good. Julie passed away earlier this year. Doug is survived by one son.
Both men were in their fifties, younger than I am. The scripture verse, “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12), comes to mind. We have no guarantee for tomorrow. We must live for today and live with eternity’s values in mind.
Are you ready should death knock on your door unexpectedly? Jesus offers the assurance of eternal life with Him if we will turn from our sin and trust Him for forgiveness and salvation.