“At least I gave it a try!”
That’s what I said after an open tryout for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team in the summer of 1994. Yes, you read that right. I actually tried out for a major league baseball team having no prior competitive baseball experience.
For those lacking in their baseball knowledge, the 1994-1995 season was shortened and then canceled due to a labor strike. Teams began scrambling to find replacement players just in case the season could be salvaged and the Pirates held an open tryout in my small town of Niceville, Florida. We have a community college in town and it was a great place for the team to look for some unheard of talent.
Although having no prior experience, I wanted to give it a try. I wasn’t completely inept athletically. I tried out for an outfield position and could throw the ball pretty well to cut off runners trying to run the bases. I also ran a 40 yard dash in 4.47 seconds so the coaches were pretty impressed with my speed. But hitting? That was a whole different story.
For those of you who have stood in a batter’s box and stared down a 90 mph fastball, this will sound familiar. For the rest of us mere mortals, it was like trying to swing and hit a lightning bolt. The only contact I made on those pitches ended up in foul territory. Needless to say, I didn’t get an invite to their replacement training camp. I couldn’t measure up to a real major leaguer. I was incompetent beyond compare.
The same holds true if we were ever to compare our lives with the holy and righteous existence of God. We just don’t measure up. He is perfect, I sin. He is righteous and I’m just wrong. He is honest, I bend the truth. He is love and I am selfish. Everything about God is pure, flawless, and good. There are no mistakes in his history, no incompetence in his character (Psalm 18:30).
So why would he love me, a lowly sinner? Why would he give his Son Jesus, God in the flesh, to die for someone so unclean? It doesn’t make any sense! But he did! He took my incompetence, my selfish motives and weak flesh and is transforming me into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18). He put his Spirit inside of me to guide and direct my path, to lead me into all righteousness and an understanding of him (John 16:13). He accepted me and my inability to ever be good enough and said, “It’s ok. I love you anyway.”
And for that I am grateful.