Daily Short-hOPT: Delivering Strength

“Strength does not come from winning.  Your struggles develop your strengths.  When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Mahatma Gandhi

It was October 9, 2005.  The Atlanta Braves were facing the Houston Astros in an elimination game of the National League Division Series.  A victory in Houston meant Atlanta would stave off its fourth straight first round exit from the playoffs.  They would return to Turner Field with the series knotted at two games apiece with its ace on the hill.  But, after an epic 18-inning battle, it was not meant to be.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Lance Berkman doubled, and Chris Burke, a Louisville, Kentucky native and University of Tennessee All-American, entered the game for him as a pinch runner.  In the top of the 11th, Burke remained in the game in center field.  In the top of the 13th, he moved from center field to left field.  Two at-bats (a flyout and a walk) later, Burke stood in against Joey Devine with one out in the bottom of the 18th inning(!!!!).  On a 2-0 offering…

Chris Burke delivered.

It was January 4, 2014.  I was in Dallas, Texas, for the 2014 American Baseball Coaches’ Association (ABCA) National Convention.  Every Saturday morning of the convention, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) holds its annual FCA Breakfast.  Not only do the coaches get to enjoy a great meal, but we also get to celebrate some of the great men in baseball who have been successful through faith, service, honor, humility, and integrity.  These men are genuine leaders who walk their faith journey daily and encourage others to do the same.

The highlight of the breakfast is the keynote address.  The keynote address becomes an on-stage interview where the individual shares his faith walk and offers advice for living his faith through the game of baseball.  As the 2014 keynote speaker was being introduced, we learned that his mere presence in Dallas that morning was an exercise in faith, perseverance, commitment, strength, and overcoming adversity.

Just a few days prior to his arrival in Dallas, he underwent an emergency appendectomy.  People told him he should cancel.  People told him not to overdo it.  Still, he believed God wanted him in Dallas to share his story at his first ABCA convention.  Once he made his decision to attend, he was greeted by a flight cancellation.  It was a sign.  He should stay.  He should cancel.  Except, he did not see it that way.  He saw it as an obstacle and a temptation, but never as a defeat.

It was 7:30AM.  Standing before a room full of coaches, colleagues, and peers, he was handed a mic, and…

Chris Burke delivered.

Oftentimes, we have it all worked out in our head.  We plan, script, rehearse, and know exactly how it is going to play out.  Except, it never goes according to our plan.  Obstacles pop up.  Distractions creep in.  Temptations try to lure us away.  When these things occur, it is easy to walk away, to cancel, to give up, to accept defeat.

What we fail to realize is that God’s plan (not ours) is in control.  By trusting in His love for us, we can push through the hard times–the obstacles, the distractions, the temptations–because we know God’s vision for our life is so much greater than we could ever imagine.  Life will get difficult.  Times will get tough.  We do not have dreams of sitting the bench for 10 innings in a crucial playoff game or suffering emergency surgery just days before we are to present a keynote address.  We want to be playing.  We want to be healthy.  But if we remain faithful through the hard times and steadfast to God’s ultimate plan for our lives, we will be right there waiting to embrace the wonderful opportunities placed before us.

And, as Chris Burke did…DELIVER.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

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