Since we are closing in on the conclusion of the baseball season in the next couple months, I was online checking out some stats and in the “lifetime achievements” section I came across a list with some rather impressive names on it. At the top of the list was Reggie Jackson, followed by Willie Stargell who was an MVP with the Pittsburg Pirates when I was in college back in Pennsylvania in the late 1970’s. Also prominently placed on the list were Tony Perez, Mickey Mantle, Fred McGriff, and Willie Mays.
Can you guess which lifetime achievement this list represented?
The most strikeouts.
Hard to believe, isn’t it? Jackson, Mantle, and Mays: These three struck out almost a combined 6000 times. And yet, that’s not the legacy they left to the game. Instead, each left a legacy of greatness.
A key to that legacy can be found in the fact that they kept stepping up to the plate. Even when the number of strikeouts were piling up, even when the slumps extended game after game, even when their whiffs caused their team to lose, even when disgruntled fans called them “overpaid bums” — they kept stepping up to the plate.
We hear this verse quoted often because there are many of us who need to hear it often:
Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. (Proverbs 24:16)
You may have a string of strikeouts behind you, and you may feel as though you’re on the verge of setting the world’s record for failure. But that’s not the legacy you were created to leave behind. Keep stepping up to the plate. No matter how many times you miss, keep swinging. You’ll eventually make contact.
I’m reminded of the words of Paul in Philippians.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect,
but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12–14