II Corinthians 10:5

"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

October 14, 2008

Lessons Learned From the Twins (163 game) 2008 Season

You all may or may not know that I love Minnesota Twins baseball. I listen to virtually every game on the radio. So, when the Twins were eliminated two weeks ago, it got me reminiscing about what went right and what went wrong this season, and contemplating the similarities between the pennant race and the race of life…

1. Make the most with what you’re given

The Twins are known for being a small market team. They don’t have the money to just go buy who or what they need. So, after loosing two veteran players in the 2007 off-season, many baseball pundits pinned the Twins to finish dead last in their division. But, for some reason, the Twins always manage to fill big holes with the young players they have developed through their minor league system. In a nutshell, they use who they’ve got, and they make it work.

Now, our situation is a bit different. God has given us so much. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” It is up to us to utilize the gifts that God has given us, through the power that He has granted us. We can even “…come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) The challenge for us isn’t not having enough, but rather putting into use the blessings God has bestowed on us.

2. Always be ready to do anything you’re asked to.

Jose Mijares spent the majority of the 2008 season in the Twins minor league system. But, when Mijares was brought up to the big leagues in September, he quickly became the “go-to” guy in the bullpen. With the Twins slim, one-run lead against division leading Chicago a few weeks ago, there were no qualms about bringing in Mijares, who held the White Sox hitless in the 8th inning. His training had equipped him for his job, and the pressures it would bring, so he was ready to handle the situation.

Likewise, we too should always be ready for anything and everything God sends into our lives. Like Isaiah, when God asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”, are we prepared to respond, “Here am I! Send me.”? (Isaiah 6:8) Our training has equipped us, are we prepared to say “yes”? We also need to be ready to tell others of what Christ has done and continues to do in our lives. Peter encourages us as Christians to, “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1Peter 3:15)

3. What matters most is how you finish

After 162 games, the Twins and the White Sox were locked in a tie for first place in their division. A rare game #163 was needed to determine who would be the division champion. In a heart-wrenching game, the White Sox beat the Twins 1-0. Suddenly, the first 162 games didn’t matter. All that mattered was that they had lost game 163, they had come up one game, one run short, and that had cost them a spot in the playoffs.

Now, in the “game” of life, there’s a lot more a stake than a trip to the playoffs. What’s at stake here is eternity. I love this excerpt from Jeff Myers’ book, “Hand Off”
“You and I were not sent here to start the race, but to run our lap flat out-to leave it all on the track. Furthermore, our finishing of the race gives more meaning to all of those who have run before…’Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…’(Hebrews 12:1 ESV) Can you imagine it? All of the great heroes of the faith are counting on you. They’re cheering for you…The voices come from all quarters. A great cloud of witnesses, all on their feet, watching as you enter the stadium for your final lap. At this point it doesn’t matter if you have fallen down. It doesn’t matter if you’re bruised and bloodied and covered in sweat…Very soon the race will be over and you’ll fall across that finish line into the arms of your coach. Don’t you long to hear Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into my joy?’…That’s our challenge, and that is what makes life count-that we are faithful, that we run the race, and that, by God’s grace, we finish well.”

4.There’s always next year.

At least that’s what everyone always tells me…But seriously, there is next year. With a young pitching staff, great defense, and the league’s best hitter, next year does look promising.

In the same way, God is a God of second, third, and three billionth chances. He says that if we confess, He will forgive us. If we earnestly seek God, He is ready and willing to wipe our slate clean, to give us another shot.

So, I challenge you to utilize the things God has given you, to always be prepared for anything He calls you to do, to finish strong, and remember, there’s always “next year”.

Oh, and for you Twins fans, next year is only 174 days away.

--Meagan Wanschura


christina hall said...

And unlike the baseball season, we've got to be ready "in season and out" - always. What a responsibility.

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." 2 Timothy 4:1-2

Good parallels, Meagan.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Meagan....sending this on to my son Joseph, an avid Twins fan.....see what he might have to comment.... :)

--Mrs. Sands

Anonymous said...

very good article meg. you guys do a great job with this. i enjoy reading them! Bri

Isaac Alzen said...

1 Peter 3:15 and 2 Timothy 4:1-2 are amazing verses. We can have such a testimony to the world if we anchor our lives on the solid and unshakeable foundation of Christ. Here is a very encouraging verse for me. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

If we look at everything from an eternal perspective, it can totally change the way we live. That is a great analogy of a runner crossing the finish line "bruised and bloodied and covered in sweat." The more trials and suffering we endure during this life for the sake of Christ, the greater our reward will be in heaven. James 1:2 says, "Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds." Wow, consider it pure joy! This is so contrary to a secular train of thought which encourages financial security and material possessions in this life! One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Matthew 6:19-21. It says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Most of you have probably heard this quote from Jim Elliot. "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Amen!

I have recently been reading an amazing book by Randy Alcorn called "Money, Possessions, and Eternity". God has convicted me through this book that I need to stop being focused on how to become rich and respectable in the eyes of the world, but instead use whatever money I might gain from a future career to advance his kingdom.
When a wealthy businessman asked Jesus what he could do to become saved, Jesus told him to give up everything he had and follow Christ. If we run into tough times financially because of serving Christ, praise the Lord! Our reward will be incomparably greater in heaven. Incomparably!! James 2:5 says, "Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inheret the kingdom he promised to those who love him?"

I think this excerpt from "Money, Possessions, and Eternity" is a great analogy.

"Imagine you're alive at the end of the Civil War. You're living in the South, but you're a Northerner. You plan to move home as soon as the war's over. While in the South you've accumulated lots of Confederate currency. Now, suppose you know for a fact the North's going to win the war, and the end is imminent. What will you do with your Confederate money? If you're smart, there's only one answer. You should immediately cash in your Confederate currency for U.S. currency- the only money that will have value once the war's over. Keep only enough Confederate currency to meet your short term needs."
He goes on in the book to explain that the Confederate currency is like earthly wealth and possessions, and the U.S. currency is like heavenly treasure. This analogy is, of course, echoing Jesus' analogy of the man who finds a treasure buried in a field.

Wow, I really got sidetracked there!

Meagan, I hope Jose Mijares can dominate next year! If Neshek comes back as his old self, we could have Pat, Mijares, and Nathan slamming the door on opponents. That would be something to cheer about. Go Twins!