Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our devotionals are inspired by notable moments in the world of sports. Today my image is from baseball.
I've always loved a good pitcher's duel, a tense, low-scoring game with big strikeouts, where teams need to work hard for a run, and every run is vital. It probably comes from my youth baseball days, where I was a decent pitcher, but was not a very good fielder and I was a terrible hitter!
This season, the pitchers have dominated. Why, there was even a 2-week period back in June when there were 2 no-hitters and a perfect game! Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in the long history of the New York Mets. A few days later, 6 Seattle Mariner pitchers combined to toss a no-no against the Dodgers. And a few days after that, Matt Cain of my beloved San Francisco Giants, tossed a perfect game, not a single runner for the Houston Astros reached base.
Back in 1993, there was an especially noteworthy no-hitter. Left-hander Jim Abbott, of the New York Yankees, no-hit the Cleveland Indians. It wasn't a perfect game, he did walk 5 batters, but not a single batter got a base hit over the course of the 9-inning game.
But in this rematch in New York, he was superb. And when the final out came in the top of the 9th, an easy grounder to short off the bat of Carlos Baerga, Abbott finished his no-hitter. He became the eighth Yankee to throw a no-hitter in the club's storied history.
What made Jim Abbott's no-hitter most special, though, was that he was not only a left-hander, his left was his only hand. He was born with just a stub at the end of his right arm, no hand. Yet Abbott did not let the handicap of a missing hand limit him. He was an All-American pitcher in college; he won gold for the US in the 1988 Olympics; and he spent 11 years in the pros, with four different teams.
If you never saw Jim Abbott pitch, you should Google some clips. He started with his glove resting, open, on his right arm, and the ball in his left hand. He would go into his wind-up, kick his leg, step forward and throw the pitch from his left hand. And he had altered his follow-through to smoothly slip the now ball-less left hand into his waiting glove, so that he would be ready to catch the ball.
Being a one-handed pitcher was no novelty act. Jim Abbott overcame the challenges in his life and developed his abilities to a very high level, high enough to pitch a no-hitter for the Yankees.
Each of us has God-given talents and abilities, the raw materials that God has given us to work with in our lives. And each of us has some challenges, some obstacles to overcome. Rather than be defeated by the challenges and obstacles in your life, better to see them as invitations from God, invitations to work hand-in-hand, so to speak, with God.
God wants us to use our strengths in serving Him, carrying out his mission for the world and those around us. But God is not afraid of or limited by our weaknesses, disabilities or short-comings.
In fact, God says in 2 Cor 12:9 that “my power is made perfect in weakness,” why? Because “My grace is sufficient for you” God longs to meet us at our points of weakness. It is there that we most honestly and truly see our need, our dependence on God. And it's there that we can see God do some amazing things in our lives, and through us in the lives of others.
Let's pray: Thank you, O God, for the talents, abilities, and strengths you have given us. Thank you, too, for the weaknesses, challenges and obstacles in our lives. Help us to rely more and more on you, to trust you to help when we are weak, and to serve you with all our abilities. Amen. For St Patrick's church, I'm Steven Page.