Good morning, this is the Rev'd Julie Golding Page for St. Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our daily devotionals come from the world of sports. They're available in video form at plaideggnog.blogspot.com. Today, we'll continue talking about baseball and its parallels to our Christian faith.One of the most popular baseball players today is Josh Hamilton. The 31-year-old outfielder for the Texas Rangers seems to be the Wayne Gretzky of baseball, blowing away all sorts of records. At his first major-league start, in 2007, he hit a home run. In 2008 and 2010, he won the Silver Slugger award. Also in 2010, he was named the American League's MVP. He's been an all star every year except his first year in the majors, and this year he set a new record, receiving 11 million votes. AND in May of this year, Hamilton hit four home runs in a single game. He's hot and everybody knows it.
But it hasn't been easy for Josh Hamilton. That could be said about anybody trying to make it into pro baseball. But in Hamilton's case, many of the hard times have been of his own making. In his personal life, he's struck out over and over again, and in front of millions of people. Back in '99, he was drafted as the first overall pick by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But Hamilton had problems with injuries, and even more serious problems with drug addiction. Those nearly cost him his marriage, as well as his baseball career. But he got into rehab, then he and his wife managed to work things out. And finally, in 2007, he made it to the Major Leagues, with the Cincinnati Reds.
2007 was a long way from the draft in 1999, but it finally looked like Hamilton was getting somewhere. However, that wasn't the end of his addiction problem. It's resurfaced every now and then, throughout his career. And every time, it makes headlines. It must be a nightmare for him and his family, because whatever he does, he does in a big way. When he succeeds, everybody knows. And the same goes for when he fails.
The funny thing is, baseball fans still love him. Usually, his story of falling into addiction again and again would turn people off. Instead, parents hold him up as a role model. And it seems to be because no matter what, Hamilton stays honest about who he is - with his fans and also with God. Josh Hamilton is a Christian who's very upfront about his faith. He knows he has lots to be forgiven for, and he also knows that God will be there every time to forgive him. So he has the freedom to be totally himself with God and everybody else, whether he's on top of the world or fallen in the dirt yet again. He knows God is trustworthy, so he can be the real Josh Hamilton and not some sort of hero who pretends he's something he's not. And fans really respect that.
So does God. Josh Hamilton's story reminds me of someone in the Bible who was larger-than-life, too. That person is King David. You can find his story in the Old Testament books of Samuel and Chronicles. King David was Israel's greatest king, and like Josh Hamilton, he had great successes. He routed Israel's enemies and gave his nation peace and prosperity. But he couldn't seem to lead his own family or keep control of his personal life. His son, Absolom, even led an uprising against him. And then there was David's famous affair with Bathsheba. He committed both adultery and murder, and he didn't even see what he'd done wrong until a prophet confronted him.
Yet after all this, in Acts 13:22 in the Bible, God calls David “a man after my own heart." NIV When you know his very big and public failures, you have to wonder. But it's because David, like Josh Hamilton, knew God personally. He kept talking to him, whether he was succeeding or failing. He was himself with God and everybody else. He was genuine. And as soon as he came to his senses and realized he was doing wrong, he admitted it and asked forgiveness. Then he went on his way as David, the friend of God - not just David the king - confident in God's forgiveness.
Like Josh Hamilton and David, we can be real with God and each other, too. In fact, that's what God wants from us, and it's the only way we'll be truly human. Otherwise, we'll be putting up a facade and never be able to enjoy right relationship with God or each other. It all starts with being real with God. Why not join me in coming to God as your true self, with all your successes and failures, today? For St. Patrick's, I'm Julie Golding Page.