It's Opening Day!
My Great Lakes Loons take to the field at 6:05 tonight, and I'll be there for my third season opener in a row. My lovely bride is coming along tonight. She doesn't care much about the game... she's a fan of the barbequed pork sandwiches.
But I digress. You know what I love about Opening Day? It's a brand new start. It's especially true for Minor League teams like the Loons, where the roster changes dramatically every year. Most of the players from last year have either moved on to Double-A ball, or just didn't make the cut. Dow Diamond is a training ground for tomorrow's stars. So every Spring, the team gets a do-over. It's a chance to start all over again.
The parallel is so obvious that I just had to preach it last night. It's exactly what Jesus Christ does for each of us when we come to him and admit that we need a do-over. We messed up. We fell far short of His standards. He picks us up, dusts us off, and gives us a booster shot to do better the next time around. Unfortunately, I think this is where many Christians miss it. We've turned grace into license! "Oh, I'm just a sinner, and God knows my heart. He knows I'm a good person."
Please. Get a revelation, Christians. The whole point of grace isn't to make us feel better about our sin. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It's God forgiving us when we don't deserve it. But here's the part we miss... grace is God's gift to us to make us stronger so we don't go out and make the same mistakes again. God gives us a do-over, yes. But the whole point of grace is to mold us into His image! Watch this:
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31, NIV)
Excuses just don't cut it. They don't cut it on the ball diamond, and they certainly don't cut it with God. We're not expected to be baby Christians forever, sucking on the milk of a watered-down "everybody smile and enjoy God's favor" gospel.
My favorite Loons alumni, Dee Gordon was named league MVP in 2009. He led in stolen bases, triples, and had a .301 batting average. He also struck out 90 times. Yeah. 90 times he came to the plate and blew it. He stumbled and fell, but instead of excuses he got up and ran the race. And you know something else? Dee wears a ''WWJD" bracelet on his wrist.
Yesterday, I made mistakes. Today, I set my face "like flint" (Isaiah 50) and vow to soar instead of wallowing in regret. How about you? Are you going to take flight?
Are you ready for a do-over?