“For my money, Ted Williams is the greatest hitter of all-time. I’d take him over Ruth, I’d take him over Cobb. I’d take him over Cobb because of the combination of power and average. I’d take him over Ruth because with Ruth, you can only speculate about what he would have done in the modern era. Ted Williams hit .388 at the age of 39 in 1957. He was what few of us ever become; he was exactly what he set out to be. He said he wanted to be able to walk down the street some day and have people say “There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived”. And if they don’t say that, it’s only because they don’t know what they’re talking about.” – Bob Costas
As the baseball season has ended, there comes a reconnection to the things of the past which we enjoy. We remember, we retell things gone by and we hope for the near future victories and joy in the passion of the national pastime. Some of the things that have long been associated with the joys of baseball are the simplicities of the game. Even amidst the controversies, which have happened every year, in the entire history of the game, we focus on the basic joys of the game. As Ron Shelton penned in regards to the complications of what baseball entails, “This is a simple game: You throw the ball; you hit the ball; you catch the ball. Sometimes you win. Sometimes it rains.” The simplicity of things is where we go in our minds when things are difficult. Maybe we watch a movie or read a book and absorb our attention with a story, maybe we watch the ballgame, maybe we play golf or go for a walk; the basic element is distraction to the simple amidst complication. We sit-back and allow the memories or the actions of the less than complicated to wash over us in our moments of being overwhelmed. The simplicity of things is in the argument we give ourselves in these rough times, “C’mon, this is easy! I can do this. I just gotta go one step at a time and I’ll get done what I need to do to get through this.” The honesty within this simple mindset is about the furthest from the truth that we can encourage ourselves with. The reality in baseball is that it is one of the most difficult games that exists. Having someone deceptively throw something 3 inches wide at you, faster than most of us drive, with the only defense to be a stick which is a little thinner than the ball are the basic reasons so few have found great success in playing baseball. The truth of life is fairly similar in the reality of complication in reflection of the simplicity of the context we view it in.
The fact of this, in the words of Ted Williams, is that baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer. This said by a brilliantly talented man who believed in practice, practice, practice and is revered with his .406 batting average – the last man to hit over .400 for a single season in baseball since 1930. Ted’s goal was set out in a human desire, “…to have people say, ‘there goes Ted Williams, the best hitter that ever lived.’” And while he may be considered the greatest hitter of all time, the truth of .406 in life would not be a welcome average. In life, 3 out of 10 leaves us overwhelmed, disillusioned and mired in the frustrations of failure. Working 10 hours to only get paid for 3 would be disastrous. Living 10 days and only being able to eat 3 of them would be disparaging. 10 years of marriage with only 3 filled with love would wither a heart into bitterness. 10 men and women of the body of Christ where only 3 trusted Him and knew the power and consistency of his provision, is a tragedy that our communities of faith know too well. Fortunately for us, the Lord our God is not a .406 hitter in life; He is a 10 out of 10 kind of God.
As we come into the interactions of our complicated and overwhelming situations, we do have a tendency to slip back into escapism mindsets. Better times in our past; maybe last year, childhood, a golden era of time, our college years – times when we drown out the actual circumstances of the moment where we still had complication, by recalling the grand illusion of an idealized experience. Rather than an inaccurate past memory, the reality of Jesus Christ is a place where, in truth, his peace in light of his action in our lives overcomes our anxiety. “Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. Take on my yoke for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” The threading of those whose hope was in and fulfilled in the Lord to his glory is consistent with all of what we read in the bible. The consistency in our own lives of finding solace in the God who bats 1.000 is an amazing comfort in our places of anxiety.
The wondrous provision that awaits us is perfect for us and perfect in his timing. He is never late; He is never early – his timing is exact to the measure of his sovereign omnipotence. The one who graciously gives to his creation calls us to trust Him and have faith in his acting in our lives and the world around us. We must come to understand our Great Provider for who He is; the one who is taking care of all things and all needs to the good of his purpose throughout all time and eternity. He is preparing to hit, He is swinging the bat, and He is batting 1.000. He doesn’t bring us to the plate and then leave us to find the best pitch so that we might luckily dink out a single: He bats for us. Even with the greatest consistency we’ve seen in baseball since Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb and the powerful Babe Ruth, in Ted Williams; none of these great ballplayers were even dependable at a .500 average. The Lord of Hosts, Jesus the Messiah, is 100% dependable and there is no off season for his provision.
He has called us to trust and obey in communion with Him. The truth in his provision covers any accolade of Ted Williams or any other ballplayer. When we find ourselves in prayer, in the midst of situations which seem out of control – when life is full of curve balls; He is able. Not only is He able, but He is working on our behalf to get us through the journeys of life. He goes before you; He goes behind you; He works through you and in ways you may never know or understand – God is in the business of caring for his children. The sparrow does not fall without his knowing and we are worth more to Him. Let us rejoice in the glory of his provision. Let us do the wave, standing in the grandstands shouting, “Hosanna, glory to God in the highest!” for his eternal hitting streak. The Lord leads and intercedes in the details of his children. He steps to the plate and hits the perfect pitch to get us safely home. The God who gifted Ted Williams, the God who bats 1.000, the one who goes before, with and behind us, brings every detail of our provision together in his perfect timing. Let us rely faithfully on Jesus as He continues to be the greatest hitter who ever existed. He is faithful, He is powerful, He is the Savior of the universe; He is worthy of the glory that only comes to the one to whom every knee bows and every tongue confesses his Lordship.