He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40: 29-3.
Here is some baseball trivia. Who was the last player to hit for the natural cycle? The answer: Texas Rangers outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. on September 13, 2006. Matthews started with a single in the first, added a double in the second and a triple in the fourth, and then finished it off with a home run in the sixth.
If you are not a baseball fan, hitting for the cycle is the accomplishment of one batter hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game. Collecting the hits in that order is known as a “natural cycle”. Only 14 players have ever hit for a natural cycle in a major league game. Statistics indicate the probability of natural cycle is once every 52,600 games.
God is asking us to hit for a natural cycle. In other words, start at home by connecting with God. Hit a single and get to first base, which is our character. Hit a double to get to second base which is community. Then a triple which is competence. And finally hit a home run life by circling the bases in our next bat. Easy? No, it is not. But it is the pattern that God established and the path to a Home Run Life.
Staying with the baseball theme, let me add a few thoughts to summarize the Home Run Life series. First, we are on a team, so we need to be a team player. A baseball team can only be successful when they work together. We are not running the Home Run Life by ourselves. We are in this thing together, so it doesn’t matter whether you are the pitcher, the catcher, first baseman, second, third, fielder or whatever. It doesn’t make any difference whether you are the pastor, an elder, KiD’s teacher, park cars, or serve coffee. Romans 15:1-2 says, ”We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” In other words, let’s do things that help, bless, build, and encourage one another in the areas of character, community and careers.
Second, living a Home Run Life is a lot easier when we listen, learn and obey the manager or coach. It seems pretty basic and self-evident to listen to the Lord of Lords, the Son of God. Yet we do not always play the game according to His rules. Luke 6: 46 says “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” We need to listen to the coach if we want to live a Home Run Life.
The third thing is you may get hurt, but that should not stop us from trying to improve our character, connect with community and place the creator ahead of our career. Lou Gehrig is called the “iron man of baseball” for a very good reason. For 15 years in the 1920’s and 30’s he played first base for the New York Yankees. He played 2,130 consecutive games. And after he retired they took X-rays of both of his hands and found that every finger had been broken at least one time, yet he never missed a game. That says something about his character and his commitment to baseball.
Every Christian will experience hurt and pain in some form or another and for one reason or another. The apostle Paul lived the Home Run Life, yet he endured a lot of hardship most of us will never face. “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13) Yes, we may get hurt, but I encourage you to continue to run the bases, trusting in God.
My prayer is that you will not be content in just being a spectator, someone who doesn’t care if they are playing on the team. Someone who just wants to be there. That is enough for some. Some people would much rather sit back and just watch anyway, content just to be at the game. Like the Christian who loves being at church, but doesn’t really want to make a commitment to Christ. They would rather just sit and watch. Just being at church is enough for them.
My prayer for this series is that we will have a renewed passion and love for being on the team and living a Home Run Life. That we will do whatever it takes to become a better baseball player. That we will set our sights on the Hall of Fame.
- Is my connection with God where it needs to be? What do I need to do differently?
- Is my character reflective of my Christianity? What do I need to do differently?
- Am I an active member of the community?
- Is my priority my creator or my career? Am I waiting until the later innings before I start running the bases?
- Do I tend to be a spectator or benchwarmer rather than an active participant in the Home Run Life? Is just being at church enough for me?