I am indebted to Paul Harvey, who, several years ago, once did a segment on sports “un-records” on his beloved radio show titled “The Rest of The Story”. In this episode, he talked about several baseball players who are now household names. I will reference four of them here.
The first is Ty Cobb, who set roughly ninety Major League Baseball records during his career, including the highest career batting average (.366) and most career batting titles (11). Other records he set and held for almost a half century included most career hits until 1985 (4,189), most career runs (2,245) most career games played (3,035), at bats (11,429) and the modern record for most career stolen bases (892).
To this day, he still holds the career record for stealing home (54 times) stealing second base, third base, and home in succession (5 times). He was also the youngest player ever to compile both 4,000 hits and score 2,000 runs.
And yet, the great Ty Cobb was thrown out 38 times in a single season while trying to steal a base! What’s more… Cobb committed 271 errors, the record by any American League outfielder!
Ever heard of the great Cy Young? He compiled an astounding 511 wins, which is most in Major League pitching history. In addition to this record, Young still holds the major league records for most career innings pitched (7,356), most career games started (815), and most complete games (749).
And yet, this greatest of all pitchers, Cy Young, also lost an astounding 315 games! A Major League record! And don’t forget his other dubious record for having given up a whopping 7078 hits! Ouch!
What about Walter Johnson? His 427 wins are second only to Cy Young all time. And yet, this Major League pitcher is renowned for having hit 204 batters, given up 4920 hits, and lost a monstrous 279 games!
None of this takes into consideration the achievements of the immortal Babe Ruth himself, otherwise known as the Sultan of Swat, the King of Crash, or the Colossus of Clout. We all know that the Great Bambino for decades held the Major League record for most homeruns (714). But did you know that he also once held the infamous record for most strikeouts (1330)?!
Now, what do all these famed players have in common? Of course, they have all been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Only that is both for their good records as well as for the bad ones! You see, they each set records for both catagories!
In reflecting on these things, I am reminded of the Apostle Peter. This man, who was destined to be the leader of the Apostles and of the Christian church, certainly had his share of high moments. Along with only James and John, he was present on the top of the Mount of Transfiguration. He alone walked on water when no other disciple had enough faith. And it was he who was even given the power of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven by Jesus Himself!
And yet, this same Peter was chock full of shortcomings. He swore; he cursed; he rebuked Jesus when he (Peter) disagreed with Him (Jesus); he even denied Jesus three times when the latter was on trial!
And ironically, it is for these very reasons that I relate better to Simon Peter than most any other Disciple. While I would like to be a standout and a leader among my fellow believers as a result of my strong and unwavering faith, the truth is that I am all too often frail and faltering. I find myself full of doubt rather than faith, of selfishness rather than sacrifice, and of disappointment rather than inspiration.
And yet, as Peter’s life illustrates, God uses us in spite of our shortcomings. The renowned Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, tells us of an enlightening experience that he once had (Jeremiah 18:1-6):
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.”
“Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.’”
And there you have it… God uses cracked pots! Jeremiah’s experience shows us this. As does Peter’s life!
So, my friend, take heart. You like me, may be far from perfect. And you may well know this! Nonetheless, God can still use us. All He asks for is a humble spirit and a committed heart. No, we do not have to be perfect. We only have to be willing. Such was the case for Peter. And such is the case for us.
In a blog post at www.crosswalk.com, Dr. Ray Pritchard has perhaps put it best: “All the perfect people are in Heaven!” He then paraphrases David Langerfeld…
You think God can’t use you? You think you’re not good enough? You think your past disqualifies you to serve God? Think again. Look at some of the people God used in the Bible:
Moses stuttered. David’s armor didn’t fit. John Mark was rejected by Paul. Timothy had ulcers. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning. Jacob was a liar. David had an affair. Solomon was too rich. Abraham was too old. David was too young. Peter was afraid of death. Lazarus was dead. John was self-righteous. Naomi was a widow.
Paul was a murderer. So was Moses. Jonah ran from God. Sarah laughed at God. Miriam was a gossip. Gideon and Thomas both doubted. Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal. Elijah was burned out. John the Baptist was a loudmouth. Martha was a worry-wart. Mary was lazy. Samson slept with a prostitute. Noah got drunk. Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter, Paul - well, lots of folks did.
Dr. Pritchard concludes with this admonition:
“God works with sinners because that’s all he has to work with. In heaven we will all be vastly improved–perfected by God’s grace. But until then, he uses some pretty ornery people who fall short in many ways, and he does some amazing things through them. You think God can’t use you? Think again!”
I wholeheartedly concur. More importantly, so does God!!
SOURCE: Dr. Ray Pritchard's blog is available online at this address: http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-ray-pritchard/think-god-cant-use-you.html. His is only one of a great many sources for this once well travelled (via e-mail) piece.
Various episodes of Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" have cropped up online at different times and places; but, to my knowledge, there is no definitive website devoted to these lost treasures. www.YouTube.com has many of them.
Fortunately, many but not all, of the episodes are available in the books written by Paul Harvey's wife, Lynne Harvey, and son, Paul Aurandt. Though long out of print, used copies of these delightful books are available on used book store sites nationwide.