My wife and I recently had the opportunity to visit the Babe Ruth museum in Baltimore. I didn't realize Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore, so it was fun to learn something new. We were able to visit the home where he was born (which has now been turned in to the museum). It was really fascinating to get an in depth picture of his life from his childhood to his death and everything in between. One of the most fascinating parts of the museum was a wall that listed when and where each one of his home runs were hit ... all 714 of them.
When asked how he was able to hit so many home runs, Babe Ruth once said, "Never let the fear of striking out hold you back ... I just go up there and I swing. I just keep on swinging and I keep on swinging. Every strike brings me closer to my next home run."
For the record, he had 1330 career strikeouts ... or 1330 steps toward his next home run.
I'm reminded of a few things when I look at the picture above:
1. Defeat opens up doors to God that we’ll never know in success. Winning and losing … it’s all a process that God uses in our lives and we have to trust the process. We have to trust that God works in our lives when we win and that God works in our lives when we lose. We have to trust the process … trust that sometimes we lose so we can talk with somebody else that’s lost and help them through it. Sometimes we fail so we can talk with somebody else that’s failed and help them through it. Sometimes we’re defeated so we can talk with somebody else that’s been defeated and help them through it. God has a greater purpose and a greater plan behind every defeat … behind every failure … and if we get so wrapped up in the fact that we simply failed … we’ll never, ever find out what God really has in store for us because we’re so focused on ourselves instead of what God wants us to learn. I wonder if the Babe learned more from his strike outs than he did his home runs.
2. Winning and losing are both temporary. We get so wrapped up in winning and losing … victory or defeat ... strike outs or home runs. We are such outcome based people. We think we’re better people if we win. We think less of ourselves when we lose and what we fail to realize is that the thing that winning and losing have in common is that they’re both temporary. If you base your worth on if you win … you’re only good IF you win. If you base your worth on if you lose … believe me, you’re going to feel awful about yourself because you ARE going to lose. God is not waiting for us to fail or succeed before He decides how he feels about us. How he feels about us has already been decided! He is absolutely crazy about you. As someone once said, "If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it."
3. I think "trying" makes God smile. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” I believe the reverse of that is true also … with faith it’s impossible NOT to please God. I don't believe God thinks more of you when you win. And, I don't believe He thinks less of you when you lose. I believe the bigger thing He's concerned with is did you try. Because when we try we are showing faith … faith enough to give something a shot … faith enough to put yourself out there in a situation that you’re not sure about … faith enough to try something and you’re not sure what the outcome is going to be. Faith makes God smile and it deepens our relationship with Him.
When my wife and I were dating, the very first birthday gift I got for her was, are you ready for this ... a blender. A BLENDER! Why, oh why, did someone not ask me what I was getting Carol for her birthday?! And, the fact that Carol didn't dump me on the spot speaks to my movie star good looks and rock hard abs. :) It was an incredibly dumb gift to get, but the reason I got it for her was because just a week earlier she was saying how much she wanted a blender. So, naturally, I'm thinking that I'm going to be a rock star if I get this for her. Oh, young Rich, how little you actually knew. But, even though a blender was NOT what she was expecting for her birthday, she knew the heart behind it. She knew why I got it for her. And, she actually thought it was sweet ... dumb, but sweet. I was efforting and she appreciated the effort.
So, as I reflect on the picture above and some of the history behind it, I want to encourage you to keep swinging. When you do, chances are you may miss ... maybe even 1330 times. But, at least you're on the field playing and not in the stands watching. You can hate failing, but you can’t fear it. If you fear it, you’ll never show faith and without faith it is impossible to please God! There will be times when you fail. Knowing that you are going to fail can free you up to do so because at least you tried and that’s what God is really concerned about. Did you show faith? Did you step up to the plate? Did you put yourself out there? Did you at least try?