Finishing Strong

Posted: June 3, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in 2012, MLB
Tags: , ,

Photo Credit: MIke Stobe/Getty Images

The fans waited over fifty years and 8,019 games for history to happen.Friday night, it happened for the New York Mets over at Citi Field with their ace Johan Santana. Yes, for the first time in franchise history, a Mets’ pitcher finally threw a no-hitter in their 8-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

For Santana, his night did not come with its usual control of his pitches (five walks), but what amazed me about his performance was his endurance. He came into the year with issues about his shoulder, having missed last year due to shoulder surgery. He threw a whopping 134 pitches! The Mets have been one of the surprise stories in baseball this year with their 29-23 record (as of June 1st) and are doing better than their cross-town rivals right now.

What I want to focus on is the no-hitter itself. It is tough to get the last out in baseball, but it is also grueling to get through all nine innings without allowing a hit. You can be dominant, but sometimes have to rely on your defense like Santana did when he was assisted by Mike Baxter’s great catch in the 7th inning.

The 9th inning is the toughest. Just knowing you are three outs away from history, it is tough [with all the fatigue] to finish with the same kind of stuff that you started with. David Freese of the Cardinals gave Santana a tough last out, but that 134th pitch was a swing and a miss to seal the deal!

As Christians, we have a similar scenario. We are taught to finish the race and run the course with Christ! However, it is not an easy feat. Just take a look at one of the heroes in the hall of faith (Hebrews 11). It is the judge Gideon. People tend to focus on the story of Gideon in terms of the good things he did and how he went from working in a winepress as the lowest in his family to becoming a leader of 300 men in his defeat of Midian. (Judges 6-7)

However, what goes overlooked is the power and prestige he got and how he changed as a person. After his defeat of the two kings of Midian (Zebah and Zalmunna), Gideon felt a sense of power and vengeance, killing the people of Succoth and Penuel who would not help them by providing aid to him and his battle weary troops. This was not the same timid Gideon we were introduced to in Judges 6 & 7. After the defeat, the people of Israel approach Gideon and request that he become their king. Gideon responds by saying the right things:

I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” (Judges 8:23)

To some, this sounds like a denial of a position, but to others, it could sound like a qualified acceptance. Towards the latter part of his life, Gideon acts more like a king by making a golden ephod that had Israel go into spiritual idolatry or taking on many wives. He even names his son Abimelech, which means “My father is king”! He does not back up the theology he speaks with his actions.

Today, I exhort you to keep the faith and finish strong. Unlike King David, Gideon did not repent for the sins he committed, so first, I pray that you continue to repent to Jesus of all your wrongdoings as will I. But, don’t look ahead to the end! We are not promised tomorrow and we are called to live for Jesus EVERY DAY! ‘Finish Well’ today is the key here! I know it may seem tiring, but God did not say there would not be trials and tribulations along the way! Think of ways, in which we can finish not only today, but this weekend, or the rest of this week.

In the end, I hope that we can all be like Paul who said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).  As I wrote earlier, that 27th out can be the toughest, but we have to remember and thank God for getting that 27th out for us on the cross for our salvation when He said “It is Finished!” (John 19:30)

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