It is October. That means cooler
temperatures (yay!). It means beautiful colors.
It means shorter days as well, especially once
we “fall back” next month. It means college
football is in full swing. It also means that it is
time for the MLB playoffs. Although not all of
us are interested in sports, there are many
who are. And there are a lot of questions
about the Braves (and about the Bulldogs, but
I am avoiding that discussion for personal
reasons…). Will the Braves win it all again?
Or, will they go out with a whimper as they did
last year? Do the Phillies have what it takes to
take down the mighty Atlanta team—clearly
the best team in the league—as they did last
year (assuming the Phillies finish off the
Marlins. As of this writing, Philly has won the
first game)? Or, will the Braves juggernaut
continue? Lots to think about and anticipate.
Regardless, it is a great time of year, both for
weather and for sports.
Bill Buckner played 22 seasons in the
MLB, for five different teams [NB: Buckner
died in 2019 at the age of 69]. By just about
every baseball metric, he had a great career.
He played in over 2,500 games. He batted
over .300 eight times. He won the NL batting
title in 1980, hitting .324. He twice led the
major leagues in doubles, and he set the
record for assists for a first baseman in 1982,
only to break his own record the next year. He
now holds the 9th, 10th, and 11th positions on
the list for the single-season record for assists
by a first baseman. On the list for all-time first
baseman assists, he is currently 19th. In short,
his career was long and incredibly productive
by any reasonable baseball standard.
But Buckner is not remembered for any
of those numbers. In fact, if asked who Bill
Buckner was, the overwhelming majority of
baseball fans today—even many hard-core
fans—would say this: “He’s the guy that
made the ridiculous error in the 10th
inning of game six of the 1986 World Series that gave
the Mets new life and allowed them to go on
and win the title.” As a result of this error,
Buckner was long vilified, by fans and press
alike. He even received death threats for a
time. Sadly, virtually no one remembers Bill
Buckner for his contributions to the game.
Rather, he is (unfortunately) known only for
one very public failure.
We all have scars, warts, and blemishes.
None of us is perfect. Each of us has failed.
And we have failed many times over. We
have said the wrong thing, done the wrong
thing, gone the wrong way, and made the
wrong choice. We have spent money where
we should not have. We have entered
relationships that we never should have
entered. We have acted when we should
have waited, and we have stood passively
by when we should have acted. We have
failed our kids, our spouses, our parents, our
friends, our coworkers, and our communities.
No one is immune to failure.
What if it was our failures that defined
us? How miserable would life be if our lives
were measured by our blemishes rather than
by our blessings?
But that is not who we are in Jesus
Christ. We serve a Lord and Savior who
chooses us and who equips us, even though
we are far from perfect. We follow a God
who calls us into his work and into his
mission in the world, even though we
sometimes fail. Scripture is filled with people
who are terribly imperfect. From Abraham to
Moses to David to Israel to the Twelve and
beyond, no one is immune to failure. Yet,
God loves and empowers us anyway. He
blesses us in the midst of our struggles. He
authorizes us to do his work even when we
are weak. It is God’s power that leads and
directs us. It is God’s longing for us—his
grace, redemption, and love—that defines
who we truly are. –Rick