A Clutch Performance

I’m not much of a baseball fan, but there’s something nostalgic about the crack of a bat and the roar of the crowd on a chilly October night.  Last Sunday my son was invited to experience this firsthand at a Red Sox game in Boston. Little did he know it, but he would witness one of the epic moments in playoff history at Fenway Park that night.

In a scenario that every young ball-player dreams about, Red Sox batter David Ortiz stepped up to the plate in the 8th inning — bases loaded, 2 outs, his team losing 5-1.  Ortiz took his stance, a fierce look in his eye, and confidently ripped the first pitch over the right field wall.  A game-tying grand slam!

The Sox went on to win the game – a comeback that will be remembered for years to come.  But all the excitement aside, one of the most interesting things to me about this night–and about baseball in general–is just how often the players FAIL!

Until that heroic moment in the 8th inning, David Ortiz had no hits in the game — in fact, he had struck out twice.  In the four playoff games surrounding that night, Ortiz had only one hit in 16 at-bats.  But in the long run, he won’t be remembered for those failures, even though they outnumber his successes by a significant margin.  Failure is part of baseball. Even the greatest players succeed in less than half their attempts at bat.

Failure is part of our daily life too.  But are we overly afraid of failure in our Christian lives? Have we failed in some area of service in the past and feel unworthy to try again?  Do we fear looking bad in full view of other believers at church?  Are we scared that we’ll “strike out” if we share our faith with others?

We know it’s important to do a good job, but it’s easy to get discouraged and ashamed if things don’t go as well as we hoped.  When this happens we can become ineffective and immobilized by anxiety — consumed by the fear of failure.  This is not what the Lord wants from us as players, and we’re not listening to our “Coach” or helping the team with this attitude.

David Ortiz didn’t let past failures control his actions when his team needed him on Sunday.  He took one look at a new opportunity and gave it his best effort.  I hope that’s what my son remembers from his first major league game.  And I hope we can all remember that when our team needs us on Sunday!

Isaiah 41:10 — Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

– Ron Reid