Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mr. Pujols and “Covering First Base”

Blogs – Ron Hutchcraft’s Blogs

The long winter is over. For baseball fans, that is. It’s time to move from snowballs to fastballs. The sluggerless solstice ended recently with two glorious words: “Opening day!”

And just as in each of the last ten years, St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols is expected to have another Hall of Fame season. He’s acknowledged by many to already be one of baseball’s all-time greats.

But his new book, “More Than the Game,” shows there’s a lot more to this first baseman than uncommon athletic ability. He says that baseball is, for him, ultimately a God-given platform to elevate Jesus Christ. But wait – isn’t that true of whatever position any Jesus-follower is in?

Albert Pujols loves to see opposing players be out at first base. But apparently he can’t stand the thought of them being out at the gates of heaven. He reveals that he has, on occasion, asked players an eternity question after they’ve reached his base. “Do you think you’re going to go to heaven when you die? If you died today, where do you think you’d go?”

Fascinating. Whatever you might think of Albert’s approach, there’s no doubt that he’s a Jesus-follower who understands why he is where he is. He is – like every believer – an “ambassador for Christ,” imploring people, “in Christ’s stead,” to be “reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 ). Divinely positioned to help people be in heaven someday.

Your “situation” is designed to situate us to be His face and voice and hands there. So they can have a chance at Jesus. And at heaven. Even if your situation stinks.

I wouldn’t have chosen to see a child we love dearly spend trying days in the hospital recently, battling through challenging medical issues. But I know at least one reason I was there. It was the same reason God’s all-star rep, Paul, was in prison. He said he was an “ambassador in chains” for the sake of Jesus’ Good News (Ephesians 6:20 ). Placed where he was – in a lousy situation – because Jesus needed someone to tell Caesar’s Praetorian Guards about Him. So that Gospel could infiltrate Caesar’s world.

Like Paul, we knew our situation had positioned us to be Christ’s “ambassadors in the hospital.” Our loved one is out and recovering, but that crisis meant that some doctors, nurses and other patients got to hear about Jesus. So, just as Albert Pujols is His “ambassador at first base,” we all get to be His ambassador at Walmart, at our kids’ school, on Facebook, in our service club, at the gym, the club, the workplace. And suddenly our “everyday” takes on eternal meaning.

Because the people we know can’t get to first base with God without our Jesus.



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