If you watched Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton in last night’s Home Run Derby at Yankees Stadium, you already know. If you didn’t see it, there’s no way I can explain it to you. Words are inadequate. Pictures don’t do it justice. It was simply the most amazing single display of power and grace I’ve ever seen on a baseball field. It was inspiring.
It wasn’t just that he obliterated the record by smashing 28 long balls in the first round. It wasn’t just that he hit homeruns on 13 consecutive swings at one point. Or that he hit 16 homers in 17 swings. 20 of 22. 22 of 25. It’s that they were long, tall, towering, majestic, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, oh-my-word-did-you-see-that rocket launches. Three of them went past the 500 foot mark. Nobody’s ever hit a ball outside the confines of the stadium. Nobody. Ever. Josh nearly did it three times, coming closer to doing it than anyone in history. He was bouncing dingers off billboards, off the top row of the black seats in center field, off the back wall in right. The exhibition stunned everybody inside the stadium—fans, announcers, All-Star baseball players, concession workers, ball boys, Madonna. They were chanting his name. They were chanting “M-V-P!” Other players were sending their kids over with balls and bats for Hamilton to autograph in between swings. Rangers teammate Milton Bradley interrupted twice to towel him off. It was incredible.
And the reclamation project who’d been suspended from baseball; who’d been to rehab eight different times as he battled drug and alcohol addiction; who’s now given his life completely over to our Father thru Christ Jesus; this prodigal son in more ways than one has come all the way back.
He gives all the credit for his salvation, publicly and privately, to our God through Jesus. He gives all the glory for his physical success and for his spiritual redemption to God. His teammates and his coaches say he’s the team evangelist. Hamilton’s apparantly talking about his new relationship with his Savior to everybody in that Rangers clubhouse.
Terry Rush is always praying that God will use the media to show people his power, to show people doing good things in the name of the Christ, to use the news to highlight God’s people doing and saying wonderful things that will inspire others to seek him and his Kingdom. I think about that prayer when the wife of one of the murdered Christian musicians in Garland openly forgives her husband’s killers and prays publicly that God will change their lives and forgive them and save them. And I think about that prayer when Josh Hamilton tears down the house that Ruth built on a national stage, when he captures the hearts and imaginations of baseball fans all over the country, when he becomes the lead story and the water cooler talk all over the nation, and continually and openly and publicly gives full honor and all the credit to our Father in Heaven.
If you know anything at all about his past and his story, you’ve probably fallen in love with Josh Hamilton this season. Knowing Hamilton’s story and watching Hamilton live as a “new creature” in Christ is also causing others to fall in love with our gracious God who believes in reclamation projects.
Please say a prayer today — say several prayers today — for Debbie & Dan Miller. As many of you know, Dan is one of my dearest and best friends. In fact, I don’t have a better friend than Dan Miller. He’s one of the Four Horsemen, one of the greatest influences in my life, one of my greatest encouragers, a man of tremendous faith, one of the main reasons I’m preaching God’s gospel today. I just found out late last night that Dan’s wife, Debbie, has been diagnosed over the weekend with cancer. And it’s rocked them. Of course. I’ll see both of them at Medical City in Dallas this afternoon. And I’m going to write much, much more about this tomorrow. But please lift them up to our Father today.