Hope you're having a heart filled with praise on this rainy day! Today and tomorrow, you might want to sing to yourself that praise song that says, "Grace like rain falls down on me!" My weather guys says…
Wait a sec! I wasn't gonna start with the weather today. I'm gonna start with sports!
"Fourteen in a row!"
Need I say more?
I know you're as excited as we are in our household to see if our very own Atlanta Braves make it fourteen straight wins tonite! It's all coming together on Turner Field! …Striking out less…Jay Hey and B.J. are finally hitting the ball well…and the young pitchers! Wow!
Altho' one of them seemed to temporarily lose his skills on the mound for a just a brief moment the other night. Julio Teheran was "enfuego" all game, throwing sliders and heaters past batters…All was well until he threw one pitch a little too high and a little too over the plate to Bryce Harper, who sent that one soaring over the fence for a homer. It was such a beauty of a home run that the batter stood and admired the lovely, arching flight of the ball as it sailed out of sight, before he started trotting around the bases. Inexplicably, the next time he came to bat, Julio momentarily seemed to have lost his brilliant accuracy from the mound and a fast ball hit Harper directly in the left…uh…"backstop"!
Harper was super upset and "shared a piece of his mind he couldn't afford to lose!" Teheran is from Colombia and I'm not sure his English is good enough to understand everything that was said. But, Hey! Sometimes, for whatever reason, you're just not perfect with every pitch! Calm down, Bryce!
But one time, there was a pitcher for the Pittsburg Pirates who just woke up terrible! Steve Blass had been amazing all thru the '71 and '72 seasons and the All-Star was probably considered the best pitcher in the game going into the '73 season.
Then the season '73 started. And Blass started…to stink! He was terrible! For no reason, he suddenly just couldn't throw the baseball where he wanted. He could've found the lost continent of Atlantis easier than the strike zone! In '72 he struck out three batters for every base-on-balls; in '73 in was the opposite! Three walks for every strike out! His earned-run-average went from 2.49 (really good!) to 9.85 (shooooooooey!!) That's like Tiger Woods shooting a round of 113 in the Master's! Or Peyton throwing eleven interceptions and two completions. Or Michael Phelps in the 200 butterfly, swallowing water, choking and gagging on it, and having to get pulled out by a lifeguard!
There was no explanation for why, all the sudden, he just wasn't good at it anymore!
Finally, in a game against the Braves, Blass came to the mound in the fifth and in an inning and a half, gave up five hits, seven runs, six walks, with three wild pitches! Shooooooooey!
After that game, they flew to Cincinnati for the next game on the schedule and Steve didn't even sleep in the hotel. He just walked the streets of Cincinnati 'til sunrise, wondering what had happened to him.
He'd lost it. And it never came back. He was done.
Today, when a person who is awesome at something, suddenly, inexplicably, and overnight loses that skill, and is terrible at something he or she rocked at, they call it "Steve Blass Disease".
Ever worried about that? You're doing awesomely at something that really matters to you…and to God. Maybe it's fighting off temptations that have "sunk your battleship" your whole life…or learning a whole new way to talk to those you love that they've been waiting for you to learn for years…or having sweet times with Jesus when no one else is around and it's giving you new confidence and a hopeful, worry-free heart…
…Until one day…
Suddenly, you're back to that sassy mouth…or forgetting Jesus…or feeling polluted by a string of failures and flops in something you thought lived in your ancient past.
"Have I lost it? Was my progress all in my imagination? Am I doomed to be what I've always been and always hated? Do I have spiritual Steve Blass Disease?"
No, you don't.
Maybe it's a "rough patch". Maybe you haven't strung together many good days all in a row lately. But you can't lose these skills and desires for a new way to be! God won't let it happen! Check these!
"He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 1)
"You, by faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time!" (1 Pet 1)
" To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!" (Jude 24)
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ!"
Or, as another version puts it, "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears!" (Philippians 1)
He's the one Who gave you a new heart with new powers and longings! In fact, you have these desires and hopes to be different from what you've always been because He lives there in your heart now! You're heart is His home! And He has the home field advantage!
Don't be afraid! If you fall, fail and/or sin, you can be super sad and sorry. But you don't have to be afraid! In the light of eternity, it's just a slump! He is going to keep you and keep you growing!
As if says in the Book of Hebrews, "So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid!' "
Or as Paul says, "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold!...Therefore we don't lose heart!…Therefore we are always confident!"
Or as they say at Turner Field, home of the Braves, "That's why we chop!"