He was good. So good that the Washington Nationals baseball franchise was pinning all their hopes on this 22 year old right-hander to bring them back from the brink of irrelevancy. Young phenom Stephen Strasburg was the team’s centerpiece in their plans to have a hugely successful season.
“The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Strasburg signed a record US$15.1million contract a year ago. He struck out 14 batters in an amazing major league debut in June and was quickly drawing huge crowds everywhere. He went 5-3 with a 2.91 earned-run average and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings with the Nationals…” (1)
All summer long the baseball world had been “gasping in awe at his 100mph fastball, bending curves and wicked batter-freezing change-ups.”
A Pitcher’s Biggest Fear
It happened on a Saturday. Strasburg grimaced, grabbed and shook his wrist after throwing a 1-1 change-up to Dominic Brown in Philadelphia. Was it a strained tendon? By Sunday, an MRI raised more questions about what happened in that throw, so a more extensive MRI was planned for Thursday. However, Strasburg’s arm felt fine all that week and he could see no reason why he should slow down in pitching.
The results from the MRI of the pitcher’s prized-right arm were devastatingly conclusive. Yes – just three words. Tommy John surgery. Doctors call it UCLR: ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. Baseball players and fans call it Tommy John surgery — named after the pitcher (Los Angeles Dodgers) who was the first to have the elbow surgery in 1974. Strasburg required Tommy John surgery. He will be out of the game for 12-18 months. Full stop.
Three words changed everything. The baseball world was devastated and Stephen Strasburg himself was crushed. Confusion. Disbelief. Anger and other emotions engulfed the promising young phenomenal pitcher.
After processing the news and accepting the prognosis Stephen Strasburg said:
“I’ve got great support all around me and they reminded me of everything I should be thankful for and they put everything in perspective for me. Bottom line, this is a game…It’s a minor setback, but in the grand scheme of things it’s just a blip on the radar screen.” (2)
A Spiritual Lesson
Do you have everything in perspective as you live your life? Do you know what the bottom line is for you? The baseball pitcher is dead-on – the bottom line is baseball is just a game. In the grand scheme of things, it is just a blip. There’s much more at stake spiritually than a game, or a career or millions of dollars. What is far more significant on life’s radar screen is your relationship with God, your purpose in life and where you will be after you die. Everything else, in comparison, is minor.
Life’s Sharp Pains
In the spiritual context, people are pitching fast balls in life – winning and losing games. Some at 100 mph. Occasionally they grimace and shake at one of life’s sharp ‘reminder’ pains and with sobering fear they think: Why do I do these kind of things? Why am I like this? Why did this happen? What if eternity is real? Am I right with God? What if God remembers my past? What happens if God is keeping a record of my selfishness and my sins and my secret desires?
But the painful reminders of life often get masked over by all the other things happening in our lives and we start to feel fine again.
Your Three Words
Facing the reality of the three word spiritual diagnosis is bitterly painful. People often stay in denial for a long time. The three words are: I HAVE SINNED. In fact, it’s much easier to say all of us are sinners. There’s something frightening about saying: “I have sinned.”
The three word spiritual diagnosis is devastating. People work so hard at trying to be better and trying to climb their way to a higher level. Many achieve the ‘best neighbour’ level. That’s why it is so hard for that same person to accept the diagnosis from the Bible.
Acceptance in a neighbourhood is totally different from acceptance with God.
God’s Diagnosis of Your Problem
Romans 3:23 in the Bible shows no favouritism and no elitism. It reduces every person on the planet to the same level: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” If that diagnosis is not understandable, maybe another statement from that same chapter will explain it further: “None is righteous; no, not one.” Romans 3:10.
Awesome News: God Has a 100% Remedy for You
What is required to turn your situation around is not something that was discovered in this decade or in 1974 or in this past century. When Christ shed His precious blood on the cross and died for your sins 2000 years ago, He completely dealt with the disease of sin. He is the remedy for your sin. If you want to be cured, then Christ is the answer. Outside of Him, not only is the disease incurable, the prognosis of a lost and dark eternity is unavoidable and irreversible. Only Christ can make the change you so urgently require.
The Bible plainly tells you: “Christ died for our sins.” 1Corinthians 15:3. “Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6. In fact, “God showed His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
The Worst and Best Day of Your Life
Yes, finally facing the awfulness of your sin before God’s eyes may be the loneliest and most miserable day of your life. A devastating diagnosis. But accepting the remedy (Christ) for your sin and the eternal benefits (life, freedom, joy and Heaven) will be the brightest and best day of your life.
“For God loved the world so much
That He gave His one and only Son
So that everyone who believes in Him
Will not perish but have eternal life.”
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