And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
The great, now-retired, sports columnist Hal Lebovitz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote a column in 1986 titled, “Why Must Pitchers Be Babied?” We’re talking about baseball’s major league hurlers. The columnist claims they’re bigger, stronger, better-conditioned than ever, yet the theme of most managers is, “Just give me six good innings.” Lebovitz observed, “Once a pitcher has thrown 100 times, look out! The poor fellow’s arm may fall off.” A sarcastic, but true, report, I’m afraid.
Listen, there was a day when big-league pitchers hurled both ends of a double-header. Yes, of course, in the same day! There was once a big league pitcher named Iron Man McGinnity who pitched 2/3rds of the entire season’s games for his team. Today? Why, my goodness, if the guy is still upright after six innings he’s patted on the back and then goes back to the dugout to think on the quarter-million bucks he just made that afternoon or evening. Well, the last I heard, a baseball game lasts nine innings, not six.
So why am I on this soapbox? Because some of the folks I hear in front-line ministry moan about “burn-out.” John Wesley, who preached three to five times daily, going from village to village on horseback, might have had reason to complain about burn-out, but not us today. We have everything from laptops to iPods to air-conditioned cars to cushy offices and custom-made pulpits. I have a good friend who just started a new church and he’s 82 years old! My kind of guy! The famed Evangelist Billy Sunday once said that when he could no longer have enough teeth to bite Satan, he’d gum him to death.
Six-inning pitchers, indeed! Humbug!
Prayer: O God, help me to still be in the race to the finish line! Thank You for the health You have granted me. Now let me use it to its maximum utility as long as breath courses through my body. There is just too much to do, and too little time to do it, to go back to the spiritual dugout after a mere six innings. Amen.