Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, New York, Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Venezuela.
10 States. 2 Countries. Packing and moving 19 different times.
Collin McHugh’s situation wasn’t exactly what you would call stable.
McHugh was drafted by the New York Mets in the 18th round of the 2008 amateur draft. With that, the whirlwind began. He spent the next five years moving up and down within the Met’s farm system. He played in Kingsport, TN; Brooklyn, NY; Savannah, GA; Port St. Lucie, FL; Birmingham, NY; Buffalo, NY; Las Vegas, NV; not to mention Fall ball in Peoria, AZ and Winter League in Caracas, Venezuelez. It was exhausting. He almost quit. McHugh said in an interview with Sports Spectrum; “I was just tired and lonely, and over it. I was just sitting there on my front porch and was thinking to myself, ‘This is it, I’ve got my bags packed and I’m ready to go.’” McHugh’s wife, family, and friends encouraged him otherwise. “Stick it out through the rest of this year. “Re-evaluate once the season is over.” McHugh took their advice, and eventually was rewarded with some playing time with the Mets. Only, it didn’t last.
In 2013, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, and the carousel of his life started all over again. Over next 6 months, he’d hop back and forth between from Tulsa, OK, Colorado Springs, and the big league Rockies in Denver.
It was tough. He missed his family and friends. He missed birthdays and weddings; the birth of his niece. But, most of all, he missed his wife, Ashley. “Most of all, it’s guilt… It just starts to wear on you after a while; and when things are going poorly on the field, that’s when everything starts to culminate.”
McHugh’s Christian Faith helped him get through the hard times. One of the Bible passages he clung to most was Jeremiah 29:12-15; “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’”
I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you. Places like Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, New York, Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, and Venezuela.
“For me, it always came back to the promise in Jeremiah, and a promise in my life that He has proved over and over again in every big decision I’ve had to make. When God says, ‘Seek me with all of your heart,’ literally every big decision I’ve had to make—where I’m asking God for wisdom for just a clear head about things—it always comes back to, ‘Seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart, and I will be found by you.’ Just the idea that God is never far off—His answer is never far off, even if things look super weird, like nothing is ever going to work out, the reality is that we will always have that line of communication with Him. It’s never cloaked, and it’s not conditional; it’s just the best, and it’s better than anything you can ask for. For me, that’s something I’ve always been able to go back to.”
God’s answer wasn’t far off. In the winter of 2013, God called Collin McHugh out of exile. In December, McHugh was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros, and his life changed forever. After a quick AAA stint in Oklahoma City, he was called up to the big league club in Houston, where he would remain on the big league club for 2 years and counting!
Looking back now on the struggles he faced, McHugh sees how he grew in his faith, and learned to trust in God in good times and bad. He puts it this way in a video interview on mlb.com;
“In baseball, you tend to get knocked down a lot. There’s a lot of failure. There’s a lot of struggle… My wife, Ashley and I were married throughout much of my minor league career, so she saw it first hand, and there are plenty of times our marriage was just hanging by a thread.
Just always understand that whatever circumstances are happening in life, God uses them in certain ways to bring you back, not just to bring you back to high moral ground or to make you do the right things and say the right things. But remind you that you are taken care of; that you are loved; that you are precious in His sight. And, in the dark times – in the times where things are rough and you’re kind of sitting there in silence wondering ‘what is going on around me?’ ‘How is this ever gonna get any better?’ A lot of times in my life it’s the only time I really hear Him clearly. And, unfortunetly, a lot of times it’s when things are the worst – but I would never change it. I would never ask for anything different because there’s nothing better in my life than hearing God and understanding His love for me on every different level.”
We all have times in life in which we feel like we’re in exile; when we’re far away from where we want to be. In those moments, remember what God did for His people, when He called them out of exile and brought them back to the Promised Land. Remember what He did for Collin McHugh, calling him out of the whirlwind and into Houston. Remember all the times that God has helped you through hard times already, and look forward to His promise to always help His people. As God says in Jeremiah 29:11; For I know the plans I have you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope. May we always cling to that promise!