Monday Morning Devotion-November 4, 2019
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
The World Series of Major League baseball has just been completed. Another long and arduous baseball season that began with Spring Training in late February ended with the final game on October 30th. That's a long haul.
The surprise winner of this year's Championship was the Washington Nationals. Their accomplishment was called wacky and improbable because at the end of May their record was 19 wins and 31 losses. Likewise, Washington had not won a World Series since 1924 when they were called the Washington Senators. Talk about faith! It took a lot of it for Washington fans to hang in there since the one major accomplishment they had to cheer about happened before any of them were born---115 years ago.
In Hebrews we read that "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Did the faith of the Washington fans ever waver when year after year they failed to even make the playoffs, much less the World Series. Absolutely. Does that mean that their faith was not real faith? Not necessarily! They kept hoping and with hope comes belief and with belief comes real faith.
We saw some exceptional pitching in the Series, in fact, Steven Strasberg---a pitcher---was named the Most Valuable Player. Recently I read about a faith journey of baseball pitcher, Orel Hershiser, a candidate for the Hall of Fame, and how he developed a fledgling faith that became real faith.
In the book, "Real Men, Real Faith" Hershiser recalls way back at the beginning of his minor league career amidst the jumble of impressions, a lasting one was a teammate Butch Wickensheimer in Clinton, Iowa (Class A League.)
He said that while all the rest of his teammates were having a good time Butch would be reading his Bible and staying sober. When Orel asked Butch what he saw in it (the Bible) his reply was: "Everything. It's God's gift to man. It tells how much He loves us and how we can know Him."
They had some conversations about the Bible, but Butch didn't push his ideas off on Orel. As he began to read the Bible more and more some things began to become clearer. "It took a long time to sink in. Sometimes just when I was thinking it sounded pretty good, I would catch myself . 'You're not really thinking about this are you?'
One night when he was alone he pulled out the Bible and started reading in the Book of John and a question became clear in his mind. "Do I want Christ in my life?"
In answer he slipped off the bed, knelt beside it and prayed: "God I don't know everything about You. I don't think I ever will. But I know I'm a sinner, and I know I want to be forgiven. I know I want Christ in my life, and I want to go to heaven. I want to become a Christian. With that, I accept You. Amen." It was at that time that Orel Hershiser's fledging, shaky faith began to firm up and head towards the real faith he has to this day.
President George W. Bush wrote: "Prayer deepens faith, reminding us of great truths: Evil and suffering are only for a time; hope endures. Even in the world's most bitter conflicts, prayer reminds us of God's love, mercy, faithfulness, the hope He provides and the peace He promises."
Prayer is the avenue to real faith.
The Quest Study Bible addresses "What is Faith Like?"
"Faith means abandoning all trust in our own resources, abilities and reasoning---the things we see. It means relying instead on things we cannot see---God's promises, provisions and His concern for us. An inner attitude alone does not define faith, though. For faith to be present, action is required. Faith proves itself by its obedience to the Lord.
The two sides of faith---assurance and expectation---can be seen in the lives of those men of faith listed in the Bible such as Noah and Abraham. They had strong convictions about unseen present realities. They also had a strong assurance that God's promises would be fulfilled---even in the face of evidence that seemed to suggest otherwise."
Ultimately the way we see God will determine the shape of our faith. If we see a big, faithful, all powerful God, then our faith will rise to those levels. If, on the other hand, we see a smaller God, a distant or less active God, then faith will plateau at those levels."
Orel Hershiser's faith became very personal. He says: "It means everything to me. I checked against the Bible every new thing I heard. I let the Bible speak to me."
From that meager beginning Orel Hershiser's faith guided him through 18 Major League Baseball Seasons. His spectacular career included setting a MLB record when he did not allow a single run during one stretch of 59 consecutive innings.
Orel Hershiser's simple faith had developed into real faith.
Real faith develops from real prayers.
Prayer: Lord, because we know that you are always there, in every aspect of our lives,
we are secure in our real faith. Amen!