"The Competition of Life"
Major League baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan played 27 seasons, in which he pitched 7 no hitters, struck out 5,714 batters, and was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. One of his pitches was recorded at 108.1 mph, the fastest measured throw of any projectile ever tossed by a human being. Ryan's career lasted twice as long as the average major league pitcher, while placing more stain on his arm than most because of the speed at which he threw the baseball. He remained relatively injury free, however, until 1993 when his last pitch damaged a ligament in his elbow and ended his storied career.
I share this with you to introduce the thought of how much Nolan Ryan loved throwing a baseball. He couldn't wait to be on the mound for competition with hitters who hoped to make contact with Ryan's fastball, but who very often returned to the bench having failed to hit the ball (some hitters indicated that they never even saw many of Ryan's throws!). Ryan knew the gift he possessed, and thus loved to compete. In similar fashion, but of far greater significance, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must "fight the good fight of faith" with the greatest sense of confidence and expectation regarding the gifts our Lord gives for godly living in a fallen world (I Timothy 6:12).
"His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:3-4).
"Many adversaries" await us as we seek to honor, trust, obey, and communicate the Lord Jesus Christ to our particular spheres of influence (I Corinthians 16:9). As the old saying goes, however, God plus one constitutes a majority. "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4). Passage upon passage in both Old Testament and New proclaim the God-enabled capacity for the Lord's people to not only survive the attacks foisted upon us by our enemies, but to thrive in the very midst of them - "In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him that lived us" (Romans 8:37). Church history records the triumph of the risen Christ as manifested in His people, confirming His abundant promise of enabling our own personal victories in the challenges of life.
In such blessed light, we must bear the attitude of confidence, anticipating the competition of life with zeal and enthusiasm. Just as Nolan Ryan could not wait to get to the mound, so must we look forward to the challenges our Heavenly Father determines and allows to come our way. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee" (Isaiah 60:1). "How many unfortunate hitters will I strike out today?" thought Ryan as he prepared to pitch. "How will the Lord reveal His glory, presence, power, and involvement in the competition of this day?" thinks the trusting, submitted believer. This sensibility of faith must grace our attitude and anticipation, and we will not find our Lord to disappoint our expectation…
"For by Thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall!"
(II Samuel 22:30)
Weekly Memory Verse
"In the world ye shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world."