Failure and Faithfulness
Baseball is often referred to as “a game of failure.” The reason being is that the greatest hitters of the game, the ones who make it into the Hall of Fame, get a hit just three times in every 10 at bats. If a player hits .300 for the season he is considered a very good, if not great, hitter. If you do that over the course of 10 years you have a great chance of getting into the Hall of Fame. It doesn’t matter that you do not get a hit 70% of the time. The last time that a player averaged four hits every ten times at bat for a season was in 1941 when Ted Williams did it for the Boston Red Sox. To say it is rare is an understatement.
People say that hitting a round ball with a round bat is the most difficult thing to do in sports. That is why a quarterback who completes just three out of ten passes would not last very long in the NFL. If a basketball player makes half of his free throws, 50%, he is considered a very poor free throw shooter. A goaltender in hockey or soccer who doesn’t stop over 90% of the shots in a given game will likely lose. Failure in these instances is not tolerated. But in baseball, it is not only tolerated, it is expected. When it comes to hitting, baseball is a game of failure. So a player must learn to live with that failure. They must come to accept that the majority of the time that they go up to bat they will not get a hit. They may expect to get a hit, they may want to get a hit, they certainly will try to get a hit but in the end, hits are hard to come by. That is why you can admire any time you see a player get a hit, whether it be a home run or a single. They have just done the hardest thing in sports.
Sometimes as I walk in my faith as a disciple of Jesus I feel like this journey is a “game of failure.” It seems hard to do all that I want to do, to be all that I think God wants me to be, to act like God wants me to act. I sit and examine my heart and I am not always happy with what I discover. I have attitudes and dispositions that are anything but like Christ. My disciplines are often undisciplined, my formation not very formed. If Jesus would give me a grade I think it would be below average, maybe even failing. Should I expect this? Is this the “normal Christian life?” Am I just doing what the average Christian does? How in the world would I ever make it into God’s Hall of Fame with such shortcomings?
I believe Jesus calls us to be His disciples, to be His followers. I don’t think He expects perfection but He also does not accept half hearted attempts or mixed motives. Through the Holy Spirit we live as His servants, empowered to be like Him as we walk in His ways. We could not do it on our own but instead we are filled with the Holy Spirit to do and be what is pleasing to God the Father. But it is not a matter of doing good or performing well. It is not a matter of “getting it right” or reaching a certain standard. Jesus wants us to share with Him in the building and expanding of His kingdom. He asks for our willingness, or as the saying goes, He is interested in our availability, not our ability. One day we will be before the King and we will hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” As Pastor Charlie Rizzo use to say, Jesus will not say “Well done, good and successful servant.” Our faithfulness to Him may not look pretty at times and we may hit some bumps in the road but He takes whatever it is that we have to offer Him and He will multiply it for His kingdoms sake. So, as we continue to do the things that help shape and form us into His image we reflect on the fact that it is not a journey of failure but a walk of faithfulness. So don’t let falls and failures hold you back, He will honor, empower and walk besides all those who remain faithful to Him.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?