Ministers struggle with the question of whether God takes sides in sports. They have such a hard time answering it that they kind of give up. They say, “You know what? I don’t know if God necessarily cares if you win or lose. I think He cares about your heart and how you are as a person.”
I’ve thought about that. And I can’t accept it! Because if it’s true, then I could say to you, “You know what? I don’t think God cares if your business succeeds or not.” Or, “I don’t think God necessarily cares if you, as a stockbroker, make good decisions in the stock market and lose everybody’s money or not. I think He just cares about your heart and who you are.” I mean, does that seem right? No, it doesn’t!
I think sometimes people forget that sport is a gifting. If I were to say that God doesn’t care who wins or loses, then basically I’m saying that He doesn’t care about what He’s gifted me to do.
But he’s gifted a lot of guys on a lot of teams! So what happens when I’m pitching against, for example, Josh Hamilton? He’s a believer and I’m a believer. Who’s going to win? The joke around baseball is: Whoever prayed harder that day! But really, how do you answer a question like that? I don’t know. I think God wants us to use wisdom.
For example, based on how Hamilton has designed his swing, if I throw a ball to a spot he likes, he can hit it hard. That’s what he’s gifted in. But if I execute my pitch, then I should be able to get him out, or at least have a good chance of getting him out. On the other hand, if I just close my eyes and say, “I think God favors me over him so I’ll just throw my pitch at home plate,” we know what will happen. He’ll hit it hard, and I’ll be wondering why God didn’t make me come through. But we know why: it’s because I didn’t execute. It’s because I didn’t focus on what I was doing. That’s using wisdom. You have to focus.
Albert Pujols is a believer. He’s also one the greatest hitters to ever live. But I’ve seen him get out seven out of ten times. And he is okay with that. Pujols is okay at the end of the year if he bats .320, hits 35 homers, and has 100 RBIs. He doesn’t lose sleep at night. He failed 70% of the time, and he’s okay with it. Why? Because he’ll tell you, “You make your pitch, I’ll tip my hat. Fine!” But if I don’t make my pitch and he hits a home run, I can’t say, “Oh, God, why didn’t you make me come through with Albert Pujols?” It’s because I threw it where he wants it! You have to use wisdom. You have to make your pitch.
I believe God blesses players. And so I pray for focus, I pray for determination, I pray for favor, and I pray that I will pitch well. I pray for those things. God’s given me a gift, and I still have to pray that I execute the best way I know how. And I think He’ll give me that.
Some years will be better years than others. The years of failure are important, too, even if you don’t always know what He’s trying to teach you. Next time, I’ll tell you what I learned this year. See you Tuesday.