“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
It was September 28, 1941, and the Red Sox had a double header. These were the final two games of the Red Sox season. These two games were essentially meaningless, since the Red Sox had not made the playoffs. However, this had been a great year for the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams (often called the greatest hitter in baseball history) who had an astounding .400 batting average that year. Williams was approached by the Red Sox manager who told him that he was not going to play so that his batting average would be maintained. Williams, however, refused to sit out the game and risked his “.400” average. The 23-year-old Boston Red Sox cleanup-hitter rapped his major league-leading 37th homer and three singles in five at-bats in the opener of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics, raising his average to .404.
The manager told Williams that he made history, and that he should not risk playing the second game. If he were to strike out three times, his batting average would fall below .400. This last game was meaningless. It was not worth the risk. The Splendid Splinter, though, refused to sit out the final game. He ended up getting a double and single in three at-bats in a game called after eight innings because of darkness. He finished the season at .406, the first player to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930. Since then, no other player in baseball has ever achieved a .400 average.
It is tempting at times to think that because of life circumstances, for the good of God’s kingdom, we need to take ourselves out of the game. We think we need to reconsider our calling. We might even have pastors and friends suggesting this. But we need a sincere conviction of why we are here, and what our Lord wants of us.
When I was going through a dark night of the soul, I told God that I was benching myself. It seemed that circumstances were such that the best thing I could do for the kingdom of God was to leave pastoral ministry. In tears I opened my bible. I was reading through the New Testament, and that morning I was beginning Philippians. My eyes fell to Philippians 1:6, which says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
This verse instantly became my life verse. God told me that am benched only when HE says I am benched, and not one day sooner. God had more work for me to do. My batting average was not complete. He wanted me in the game. I wept uncontrollably in both joy and confusion. In the years that have followed, I realized that the best ministry was yet to come. And I would have missed out if I had benched myself.
Whatever our spiritual or ministry batting average, we aren’t done until God says we are. I can say this with utmost certainty, because I am confident of this fact: he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. The best is yet to come.
My Loving Father, I get tempted sometimes to bench myself rather than face the things in my life. Thank you for upholding me, and for your promise to never give up on me. Amen.