The once outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, Jake Fraley, who, as of March 14, 2022, now plays for the Cincinnati Reds, speaks with Heaven to the Yeah grace ambassador, Christian Taylor, on how he came to know God and the Grace God has bestowed upon him in his life and career.
The twenty-six-year-old from Frederick, Maryland was born into a Christian household and grew up attending private Christian schools in which he was taught all the scriptures and the word of God, but he did not feel as though he had a real relationship with the Lord. When he entered high school, it was in the process of being bought out. The new owners of the school implemented Bible classes which discussed the heavy topics that normally need to be tip-toed around when teaching the word to young people or new believers. Fraley felt as though he was learning that all mistakes led to hell, and without awareness of this concept, he began to feel uncomfortable, so he went home and talked to his parents. Even after the talk with his parents, Fraley continued to feel alone on this journey to understand, but then he turned to the Lord and began asking the Lord his questions and for guidance. After speaking to the Lord and then with more and more people about the Gospel, he came to realize that, while the teachings were all biblical, they were not being taught in a proper manner.
Before his senior year, Fraley decided to transfer schools. He ended up at another private school, not Christian, but big in the sports world. Fraley new sports is where he belonged and that he had a gift of talent in baseball given to him by the Lord; however, after the transfer, he came to realize that he still did not know the Lord. He knew the stories and could talk about what happens in the faith, but he didn’t feel as though he could sit with people and share the light of the Lord, so he took it upon himself to dive into the Gospel and seek out the Christ. On this path, Fraley came to realize that he loved talking about the Gospel with people and that it is an interpretive concept based on the person and their place on the path to know the Lord. “In no sense am I saying Catholicism is not the gospel; there are few things within Catholicism that are not correct, [but] it is interpretive” and can get confusing. Rather than having these confusing situations deter him from his walk toward the Lord, it made him hungry to dive deeper into the word and build that relationship with Christ, finding that it is a one-on-one relationship. “The Word is truth; all Jesus wants from me is my heart—to give him everything he dies on that cross for.”
With a deeper personal connection to the Lord, Fraley went off to college at Louisiana State University. Here, he once again felt alone, but this presented him with the opportunity to gravitate toward his campus chaplain, Charlie. “The Lord used [Charlie] to help piece together a lot of things on my walk with the Lord from what I learn to then apply it in my actions and my life. [Charlie] showed me what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ, [rather] Christ showed me through Charlie.” Now, Fraley sees how the Gospel may become you when you accept Christ into your heart. This, for Fraley, happened after he graduated college when he truly began living the life the Lord laid out before him, keeping in mind one of his favorite quotes, “are you willing to walk with Jesus day by day?” With this quote in mind, it serves as a constant reminder that people need to be in this because the Holy Spirit gives exactly what is needed for today and then we must go back to Him tomorrow to be pulled in the right direction toward Christ. Finding his pace with the Lord, Fraley came to find comfort in using his gifts, his walk, his experiences to lead others to the Word by living the Word and staying true to himself.
No matter where one goes, there will always be people, or a person, who do not align themselves with the same beliefs as those around them. There will also be people who try to shame you and make you question what you’re doing or what you are believing in; this was all experienced by Fraley, but he learned to use his gifts from God to combat the judgment and keep living the life the Lord has planned for him.
“As I started professional baseball, it was one of the first times in my career that I experienced people not aligning themselves with the same things I align myself with, or in the same ways.” Fraley goes on to say that he never experienced a sense of anxiety in his sport and knew it was because he had Christ in his life. Living anxiety-free, he felt that he could talk openly to those who felt anxious and think that they needed to make more time for the Lord, until he hit the big leagues and started feeling his own anxiety. Upon reflection, he saw how important daily time with Jesus truly is and the peace this time can bring, so he began bringing the Word with him everywhere and always read the Word in the locker room. Here he discovered his true gift of fellowship. As people who did not understand would call him a Jesus lover, or that he did not know what he was doing or what he was even reading, Fraley continued reading his Word, praying for those around him and praying with those who knew of his walking with the Lord. Fraley found, in these instances, that the more time spent with the Lord, the less anxiety he felt. With this realization, he laughed to himself, “The Lord is awesome, but he has a sense of humor.”
When faced with turmoil, doubt, or criticism, Fraley saw these instances as the Lord’s way of saying there is a time and a place for everything; fellowship and being grounded in the Word is important and Fraley could lead by example to show others who Christ is. He got to see all sides of the Lord’s work as he looked upon the transformation of all facets of both believers and non-believers. “I love the concept of everything being meaningless.” He came to realize that the Lord is all we need in our lives, yet we get so wrapped up in being the best at what we do, we stray from the Lord and forget to ask for help as the problems tumble about us. “If you cannot answer that Jesus is enough, then something is not lining up in your life or your journey with the Lord; you need to reaffirm yourself in where you are allowing your feet to settle and be in a constant walk with Christ.”
Fraley relayed this message of the need for Christ constantly as he told a story of a friend who had lost everything yet stayed strong in his faith. “This experience was incredible. As hard as it was for him, you [got] to see the way the Lord works as he talked about Christ [amongst the tragedy].” When experiencing pain, heartache, or tragedy, Fraley comments on how the human mind and heart cannot get through that kind of hurt without Jesus, He is the only one who can heal a hurt like that. “The only way to get through atrocities is through Jesus Christ and the truth he gives; Jesus is always the answer.” The Lord will save in dark times and in light, giving his gift of Grace to the world.
When asked what God’s gift of Grace meant to him, Fraley responded with a simple definition: “Underserved, unmerited love from Christ.” He went on to say that we are not good people and nothing we do can ever add up to God’s Grace. Fraley elaborated on his point as he dove into the concept of having faith in receiving future Grace. Understanding what Jesus did for us on the cross, wiping away all our sins for all eternity, allows us to “tap into a characteristic of the Lord for us to understand the walk of life we are on—providing faith in future Grace.” The Lord God holds his children now, He held them then, and He will hold them in times to come. We obtain gratitude through the acts of Grace received, calling us to constantly come to Jesus and walk with him until the end.
Jake Fraley spoke with Christian Taylor with an open mind, heart, and soul. The Heaven to the Yeah team is thankful for the heart of Fraley and the fellowship he offered in the short time he shared.