What do Josh Hamilton, Mariano Rivera, Albert Pujols, Brian Roberts, Andy Pettitte and Lance Berkman all have in common? The obvious answer is that they’ve all represented a Major League team during an All-Star Game. Another thing these men have in common is that they all profess faith in Jesus Christ. None of them are perfect; nor do they profess to be perfect. Each one of these men has their own, unique struggles. Fame and money doesn’t solve all of their problems and wearing a Major League uniform doesn’t cover up their frailties. They are gifted; no doubt, but just like each one of us, they have challenges, temptations and weaknesses.
Several years ago, I attended the MLB All-Star game and had the privelige of attending the Baseball Chapel for the players in both leagues. There were at least 20 players in attendance. It was almost as if egos and agendas were “checked” at the door. These were some of the greatest athletes in the world…certainly the very best baseball players on the planet. There was tremendous energy in the room and the usual competitive banter that occurs between athletes. As you can imagine, there was also enormous confidence and swag. But, during Chapel, these were God’s children seeking answers, receiving encouragement and soaking in peace away from the cameras and microphones.
Their faith in Christ doesn’t guarantee a life without problems, but it does give them a Friend to help them in their times of frustration, failure and fatigue. Some would call this a “crutch,” but if you ask any one of them, I’m certain that they would call it a blessing. During times of frustration, God offers peace (John 14:27). When they struggle and fail, God gives strength (Philippians 4:13). When they are exhausted, God encourages them to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28).
These gifts are available to MLB All-Stars as well as to each one of us; they are offered by a loving God who would rather give freedom than to judge, give understanding instead of confusion and will provide faith when we doubt. We only need to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or, if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7, 9-11)
In God’s eyes, each one of us is an all-star. That’s why He sent Jesus to be “Immanuel, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)