Summary: Barak was a man of faith. He didn’t drop the ball. His example inspires us to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.
Faith’s Hall of Fame: Barak
“He dropped the ball!”
I’m sure you’ve heard that expression before. We use it to describe someone who has failed to follow through on an assignment or to reach a certain goal. Some people trace the origin of that phrase to the 4th game of the 1941 Baseball World Series. The series was dubbed the “Subway Series.” The Brooklyn Dodgers were playing my favorite team—the New York Yankees. The Yankees won the first game of the series by a score on 3-2. Brooklyn returned the favor the next game by beating the Yankees 3-2. Then the Yankees took the third game 2-1. And in the fourth game it looked like the Dodgers were going to tie the series. Brooklyn was leading 4-3 at the top of the 9th inning. The Yankees were up to bat with no man on base. There were 2 outs and the count was 3 balls and two strikes on Tommy Henrich. Henrich swung at the next pitch and missed the ball by a mile. Now, that should have ended the game. But the Dodgers’ catcher, Mickey Owen, dropped the ball. The ball hit off the heel of his glove and rolled toward the Dodgers’ dugout. Henrich ran to first base before Owen could retrieve the ball. That started the Yankees’ rally. Next up to bat was “Joltin’ Joe” DiMaggio. The Yankees then went on to score four runs in that inning. And they held on to win the game 7-4. So, instead of the series being tie at 2-2, that victory gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the series. Well, that took the wind out of the Dodgers’ sails. And the next day, the Yankees beat the Dodgers 3-1 in Game 5. And so the Yankees won the 1941 World Series. All because Brooklyn’s catcher, Mickey Owen, dropped the ball.
You know, Owen was never able to live that down—even though he was a great baseball player. As a matter of fact, in that 1941 season, Owen set a record for the most errorless fielding chances by a catcher—with 508 perfect attempts. He was an All-Star for four consecutive years—from 1941-44. In 1942, Owen became the first player to pinch-hit a home run in an All-Star game. And during the 1944 regular season, he became the third National League catcher to ever complete an unassisted double play.
But despite his outstanding career in baseball, Owen was always known as the man who “dropped the ball.” Mickey Owen died just a few years ago in 2005. The title of his obituary in the New York Times read: “Mickey Owen Dies at 89; Allowed Fateful Passed Ball.” Even in his death he was remembered as the guy who dropped the ball.
This morning, I would like us to consider the life of a man who many people think “dropped the ball.” No, I’m not referring to another baseball player. I’m referring to a member of Faith’s Hall of Fame. Please turn with me to the book of Hebrews chapter 11.
Last Sunday, on Father’s Day, our Missionary-In-Residence, Bob Lehman shared the Word of God with us. And a month ago, our former pastor, Larry Hummel spoke to us. At the beginning of his message, Pastor Hummel teased me about being in the book of Hebrews for such a long time. But many a truth is spoken in jest. We have been in Hebrews for a long time—14 months to be exact. And recently we’ve been camped out in Hebrews chapter 11—Faith’s Hall of Fame.
Now, I realize that spending so much time in one chapter can present some difficulties. You know, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s possible to get so engrossed in a study of one passage—such as Hebrews 11—that you forget the big picture. So, I thought it would be wise to take a moment and refresh our memories concerning the big picture—what the book of Hebrews is all about.
The author of Hebrews wrote to encourage a congregation of Hebrew Christians who were facing persecution. Because of this threat of suffering, they were tempted to abandon their Christian faith and return to their former, safer Jewish religion. But the writer of Hebrews encourages them not to leave the faith—but rather to press on to spiritual maturity in Christ. So, he writes to convince them that what they have in Jesus Christ is far better than what they had in Judaism.
And so the book of Hebrews is all about the superiority of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell—Jesus Christ is better. In chapters 1-6, the writer of Hebrews shows that Jesus is better in His person—better than the Old Testament prophets—chapter 1, better than the angels—chapter 2, better than Moses—chapter 3, better than Joshua—chapter 4, and even better than Aaron, the first and greatest high priest of Israel—chapters 5 and 6.