Summary: We cannot shut our eyes to this one fact: The way we live reflects on the One who gave us life.

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Isaac Butterworth

November 14, 2010

2 Peter 1:3-11 (NIV)

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When I was a kid, I loved baseball, and I loved to play. But the truth is, I wasn’t very good at it. I was even on a team once. I never made the starting lineup, but my coach was kind enough to let me play at least one inning in every game, usually the ninth. He would send me out to right field, and he probably hoped I wouldn’t get a chance to bat. My batting average was basically zero.

One time, we were playing a team whose pitcher was nothing less than imposing. He was a big kid, and he could throw hard and fast. He had super control, and he mostly threw strikes. You could be sure that the ball would come right over the middle of the plate every time. In more advanced baseball, that would be every hitter’s dream, but we weren’t all that advanced. And when he hurled the ball, he did it with such speed that no one could get the bat around on him.

Come the ninth inning, we were down by a run. And I know it pained the coach to put me in, but he was a good guy and he did it anyway. And -- wouldn’t you know -- the way things turned out, I would get to make a trip to the plate in the bottom of the inning. The first two batters struck out. The kid before me walked, so our tying run was on base with two outs. And it was my turn to face this dominating pitcher. I was sure I would strike out, and we would lose the game. And it would be my fault. Nevertheless, I stepped into the batter’s box, determined to meet my fate with whatever courage I could muster. I felt like I was being thrown to the lions.

The pitcher looked at me and, no doubt, sized me up as his last victim. Three quick pitches, and he would put me away. He went into his stretch and reared back and threw one of his searing fast balls. I stood there like a statue, not moving, except maybe to flinch a little at the thought of getting hit by one of his pitches. ‘Smack!’ The ball sailed into the catcher’s mitt. Strike one! Same thing on the next pitch. I never even saw the ball. ‘Whoosh!’ ‘Smack!’ Strike two.

Then, here it came: the third pitch, delivered just as fast and just as hard and just as straight down the middle as the other two. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just stand there and let the ball whiz by me. So, I closed my eyes and, against all hope, I swung. I swung as hard as I could, and, suddenly, I felt the impact of the ball on the thick part of my bat. ‘Crack!’ For a baseball lover, its the sweetest sound in the world. I opened my eyes, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The ball was soaring up and over the center fielder’s head. Its trajectory indicated a long ball and extra bases.

I was paralyzed for a moment, but just for a moment. I had never connected with a ball like that before. Half-stunned, I began to run. I tagged first base and rounded second and ducked my head and ran toward third. By this time, the center fielder had recovered the ball and was throwing it, and here it came, zinging toward the third baseman’s open glove. I literally threw myself at the bag, sliding into the base on my belly. I beat the tag by a mere fraction of a second. But I made it. I was safe. My teammate scored, our supporters cheered, and I stood up. I could barely believe it. I had hit a triple. It was the only hit I got that season. And, to be honest, it was an accident. I just closed my eyes and swung the bat.

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