Summary: A full understanding of God’s grace is the cure for our sometimes overwhelming guilt.

God’s Great Gift of Grace

by Rick Labate

In his book, My Tortured Conscience, Martin Weber writes, “He was a deeply committed Christian evangelist. Even in retirement he won many converts throughout the conference. Everyone spoke well of the gentle man.

One cold and gray morning he put his shotgun on his shoulder and told his wife he was going outside to shoot a rat. Then gave his wife a kiss on the cheek. Moments later she heard the shot. Only it wasn’t the rat he killed, it was himself.

His funeral was one of the saddest you could find anywhere. The unspoken question on everyone’s mind was, “What caused such a godly man to kill himself? What caused him to pull the trigger?”

Here was a man who had no problem opening the New Testament and proving the importance of keeping the law. But in his diary he wrote these words, “Here I’ve been telling everyone else to keep the law and I can’t even keep it myself. What hope do I have of heaven? Why go on?” An overwhelming sense of condemnation made him kill himself.

Yet when we review the true reason why this man took his life it was not really because of guilt. You see, there is a remedy for guilt. It’s called grace.”

It is God’s great gift of grace that gives us the peace that passes all understanding. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Why is grace sometimes such a hard concept for us to understand? It’s difficult because the rest of the world simply does not work on the basis of grace. Grace is receiving good when I deserve bad. Grace declares that I have absolutely nothing to do success yet it is my name that makes the headlines.

One of the strangest baseball games that ever took place happened in a

minor league town in Iowa around 1950.

Jim Evans was the scheduled starting pitcher for the Fairfield Hawkeyes for the deciding game of the series for the state championship. As the game began Jim Evans promptly walked the first 3 batters. Then he gave up a double, two singles and a 3-run homer. Before the fans were even settled in their seats the home team was behind 6-0.

The manager came out to speak to his pitcher. He said, “Hey Jim, the object of this game is to get the opposing batters out. Don’t worry there is a lot of baseball yet to be played. Just try to get the ball over the plate and trust your other 8 fielders to help you out.”

Jim reared back and reached for everything in him. At first it seemed that he was really going to succeed. He got the rest of the batters out in the first without any more damage being done. In the second inning he was looking so good. Three batters, three consecutive outs. But in the third inning, all his effort was not good enough as the opposing team scored 9 more times. The Fairfield Hawkeyes were now down 15-1. The fans were grumbling and it was starting to get ugly real fast. The manager came out, patted the pitcher on the back and had no choice but to send him to the showers.

The owner of the Fairfield Hawkeyes then came out of the stands and proceeded to converse with the manager. After about a five minute discussion, the owner walked over to the public address announcer and the manager walked into the locker room. This is what was announced.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we announce a pitching change. Now pitching for the Fairfield Hawkeyes is the manager for the Hawkeyes, Joseph Godson.”

The opposing team went into an uproar. “They can’t do that. He’s an ex-major league baseball star.” The protested strongly. But there was nothing in the rule book that forbade the manager from playing during the game, so their protests ended up being useless.

When the manager came out however, he was wearing Jim Evans’ extra uniform. He took the mound and though the uniform said “Evans” on the back, it was the manager doing the pitching.

The manager was just incredible the rest of the way. The remaining 21 batters were retired in order 19 of which he struck out. He also proceeded to knock in 15 runs during the remainder of the game as the Hawkeyes came back to defeat the Dubuque Red Devils 12-11.

The next day in the newspapers the headlines read, “Incredible Win for the Hawkeyes.”

Jim Evans tried to tell everyone who did not see the game that it was not really him who saved the game but it was his manager. That when he was in the game he was just awful most of the time. He had a couple of good stretches when it seemed he was doing well but when he was the one who let the team get behind 15-1. He told everyone that it was his manager than deserved the credit, not him.

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Denis Segebartt

commented on Aug 5, 2008

Hey Rick, We worked together in Virginia when I was out there. I am now in Colorado. As usual you do an excellent sermon. Thanks for sharing.

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