For baseball fans, the name Ty Cobb immediately strikes a chord of recognition for he is one of the all-time great players. His life time batting average of .367 tops the list of all time players. He set ninety Major League Baseball records during his career with the Detroit Tigers. He won eleven batting titles and received the most votes on the initial Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
Yet, we would never have heard of Ty Cobb’s name had he not possessed an extraordinary amount of perseverance. After several years of semi-pro ball, young Cobb signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1905. He had finally made the major leagues, but his problems had only begun.
In 1906, the more experienced players on the team, led by an outfielder who feared Cobb might take his position, initiated a hazing campaign against him, attempting to run him out of baseball. They mocked his southern accent. They smacked him in the back of the head with soggy wads of newspaper on train trips. They ostracized him in the dugout. They did everything they could to run him off. It was inarguably a difficult time for Cobb as he tried to find his place. He even spent some time in a sanatorium to get his life together, but what he did not do is QUIT!
Instead, he responded to their opposition by performing well on the field and by leading the team in batting in 1906. At that point, his baseball career took off, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Life is not easy for any of us. No one goes through life without facing opposition and confronting obstacles. Don’t whine! Don’t retaliate! And above all, DON’T QUIT!*
I share this today because I have just returned from an eleven day trip to the nation of Turkey. In Biblical days, modern Turkey was known as Asia Minor, a province of the Roman Empire. There, one can find a great many sites visited by the Apostle Paul, as well as the famed cities of the seven church of Revelation.
One place we visited in particular stands out. That place is called Cappadocia. It was here that a group of Christians led by the famed Cappadocian Church Fathers lived in caves during the time of the official Roman persecutions of the early church.
As I toured this amazing place, where the remains of entire cites, as well as monasteries churches, and individual homes, are still intact in caves and underground, I was reminded of chapter 11, verses 32-38, of the New Testament Book of Hebrews, where the writer speaks of those who “through faith” did the following:
“conquered kingdoms, administered justice, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, escaped the edge of the sword, endured torture, faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment, were put to death by stoning, were sawed in two, were killed by the sword, went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground”.
I stood in awe of the faithfulness displayed by entire generations of early Christians in the face of what all they were called upon to endure. And I could not help but be thankful for the faithfulness of these ancient believers who chose to remain steadfast and not to give up on their faith, despite being hounded and harassed mercilessly by the world.
What is more, I find myself being reminded that one day, out there in the future, should the Lord tarry His coming, succeeding generations may well follow in my footsteps even as I follow in those of such earlier Christians. I can only hope that they will look upon me and my time in this world with equal appreciation, being able to conclude that I was faithful to stand up for what I believed in, no matter what the cost.
Beyond this, I find myself looking forward to that day when, hopefully, I will meet these faithful early Christians in a place called Heaven. And there, to tell them myself just how thankful I am that they dug in and did not quit!
*SOURCE: SeminaryPLUS is a monthly subscription newsletter of Brian L. Harbour, PhD, 5805 Sweetbriar Dr, Richardson, TX 75082. If interested, one can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (972) 977-3704 to sign up.