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When it seems not to matter

October 5, 2012

Well, the regular season of Major League Baseball is over and the playoffs begin tonight.  Ten teams are going to the playoffs, although for two of those ten teams their season will be over by the time the sun comes up tomorrow.  For the other twenty teams, however, they are done and, presumably, already thinking about next year.

Actually, for most of those teams their seasons had been effectively over for several weeks now.  The Houston Astros, for instance, finished 40 games behind the Cincinnati Reds, who won their division.  They were eliminated weeks ago.  Other teams were almost as bad.

One of the strange things about baseball is the fact that, by September, most of the games are all but meaningless.  Who cares that the Cleveland Indians, with a late season run, edged out the Minnesota Twins to avoid last place?  Fans quickly lose interest in such games so the teams try all sorts of gimmicks to get you to come to see them.  The Miami Marlins gave Adam Greenburg an at-bat in a meaningless game against the equally pathetic New York Mets.  In Greenburg’s only previous at bat in 2005 he was hit on the head with a pitched ball and suffered a concussion.  After years of slow recovery trying to get back to the majors a fan-led effort to give him a shot paid off with Miami, letting him bat this week.  He struck out.  So much for happy endings.

I’ve always admired the players who go out day after day, often 30 or 40 times, to play hard in meaningless games.  And I relate to them.  If I am honest, most of my days don’t have “significance” as the world measures it.  A day or so later I will draw a blank if you ask me what I did.  In an age where Christians are being repeatedly urged to “make a difference” or “do something big for God” does just being a nice guy doing ordinary things on ordinary days count for anything?

Is my day a failure if I haven’t been able to initiate a witness opportunity, let alone conclude one?  Is something wrong if I haven’t made a spiritual breakthrough?  Overcome a spiritual hurdle?  Seen an amazing answer to prayer? 

Exhortations and encouragements in our Christian walk are good, even necessary.  But I sometimes wonder if we perhaps make too many Christians feel like failures just because, in this ordinary day, all they did was do their job faithfully, treated people with kindness and managed not to be too big of a jerk.

There are days when I feel as if success in trying not to be a jerk counts as a spiritual victory.  I wonder what Jesus thinks about that.

 

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