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Hits and misses

You almost certainly know that Babe Ruth was, in his time, the home run king — hitting 714 home runs during his career. What you might not know is that he was also the strike out king with a batting average of .342? In other words, 65.8 percent of the time, he struck out, was thrown out or walked. He led the American League in strikeouts five times and struck out 1,330 times during his career.

Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs with a batting average of .305. In other words, 69.5 percent of the time, he struck out, was thrown out or walked. 

Barry Bonds hit 762 home runs with a batting average of .298 (with some controversy about the use of steroids). In other words, 70.2 percent of the time he struck out, was thrown out, or walked. And this past year, he was not elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This was the sixth year of his 10 years of eligibility. It’s fascinating that as the home runs go up, the batting average comes down?

So we have two questions, isn’t it great that we remember the home runs and not the outs? And how do we trust the record books during a time of performance-enhancing drugs? 

“Then the people who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard what they said. In his presence, there was written down in a book a record of those who feared the Lord and respected him. ‘They will be my people,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘On the day when I act, they will be my very own. I will be merciful to them as parents are merciful to the children who serve them. Once again my people will see the difference between what happens to the righteous and to the wicked, to the person who serves me and the one who does not.” (Malachi 3)

I’d just preached a Holy Week sermon at Brunswick First UMC and a man walked up to me, “I’ve been listening to sermons for almost 80 years and that’s the best one I’ve ever heard!” 

Recently a man told me, other than Johnny Moore, I was his favorite preacher. But I’ve also preached terrible sermons and wanted to find a back door exit, but I don’t really know my “batting average.” I just hope people show me the same mercy they’ve shown to Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds — remembering my home runs and forgetting my “strikeouts?”

Imagine a world where we “give other people the benefit of our doubts?” Imagine a world where we believe the best when it would be easy to believe the worst? Imagine a world where people are innocent until proven guilty, and loved even when they are guilty? 

God has, according to Malachi, promised that world to those who “fear the Lord and respect him.”