Thursday, December 08, 2011

Albert Pujols

The end of an era in the history of St. Louis Cardinal Baseball.
Albert has moved on, accepting an offer from the Angels.

I think that says it all as far as baseball is concerned.

Okay, not really. In the coming hours and days there will be a lot more that is said about it. Already there have been fans that are turning on their now former hero and bidding him good riddance. Some fans are in mourning as if the Cardinals just closed the franchise down and will not be playing ball in 2012. Some feel betrayed that Albert would take the offer that best takes care of him for the rest of his career and in his life beyond baseball.

...And yes, there is life beyond baseball.

For most of us, it's just a game.  It's not our career. It's not our business. We have no stake in who wins or loses other than bragging rights among our friends. We pour our time, our money, our emotions into an escape from the worries of life...but most of life happens well beyond baseball. For Albert (and the elite few that make it to 'The Show'), baseball takes on a different perspective--one that I won't pretend to understand. So let me offer another perspective--one that many of you may not understand.

Over the past decade, Albert Pujols has brought a spiritual aspect to the Cardinal clubhouse. Certainly, there have been positive Christian role models in the organization prior to Albert, but because of his stardom, his has been much more visible. Evangelical Christians have greatly enjoyed his openness about his personal relationship with Jesus. His openness has encouraged other players (and fans) to be more vocal about their relationships with Jesus. The Cardinal clubhouse is full of guys that profess Jesus as Savior and Lord...and Albert has been a big part of that.

What if in the grand scheme of things, it's time to spread the gospel and encourage that kind of open testimony to another team? What if Albert really wanted to stay in St. Louis and prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in making this career decision? What if he is not following the money, but is really following the leading of God?

Something tells me that God is not a big fan of the games that we play. I really don't believe that He cares if the Cardinal win another World Series in 2012 or the years beyond. (We already know that He doesn't care if the Cubs or Royals ever win another one!  Okay, that was mean--but a little bit funny, too.) IT'S JUST A GAME, FOLKS!

What isn't a game is that there are millions of souls that need to hear about God's love and His wonderful plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus. Albert has led teammates to know Jesus. He has given other Christian leaders and laymen opportunities to share Jesus in many different circles. Young athletes have learned that it's okay to be an athlete and take a Christian stand when it comes to using or not using steroids. Could it be that God feels that there are others to carry on with that message in the Midwest and it's time to move His superstar witness to the West Coast? Maybe this move doesn't have anything to do with baseball and has everything to do with a servant humbly obeying his Master.

Whether I am right about this or way out in left-field (pardon the analogy), each of us that professes Jesus as Savior ought to examine how we testify about our relationship in the career fields that we are engaged in. If we are to be obedient to the command that Jesus gave to us at the end of Matthew's gospel, then our work places are our mission fields. Our neighborhoods are our mission fields. If we have truly trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior, then our lives are not our own; they have been bought with a great price and we owe it to our Lord to serve Him where He desires, not where we prefer to serve.

If you are a Cardinal fan, I am sorry for the loss to our team.
If you are an Albert fan (and I am), then wish him the best and cover him with prayers in his new mission field.
If you are a Jesus fan, then trust Him in all of the areas of life and realize that eternity is no game.
If you are too busy playing games to get serious about life and about eternity, I would encourage you to consider what awaits you if there is no tomorrow.

John<><
less that 3 months to spring training!

2 comments:

Bill Otto said...

John,

Do you really want me to believe that there is divine guidance that sent Pujols to the Angels? (sorry for the pun) Don't you think that for $40 million dollars, He could have reached a lot more than 26 guys in a clubhouse? This is more of an example of unfettered greed than anything else. He could of gone to the Cubs to help them win a series or Florida to be close to his impoverished homeland, and the fans might have felt hurt but they would have understood "the greater good". Going to California was about the money & nothing else. Perhaps the 'big plan' was to show folks that Albert is just human or maybe they've chosen the wrong person to worship. I can't buy the notion that it took $260 mil to witness for the Angels. (last pun)

Bill

John said...

Bill,
There is no denying that money is an issue. And whether or not Albert chooses the money for greed, personal recognition, or just looking to play for the team that appears to want him the most; the fact remains that life goes on, the business of baseball goes on, and what is only a game to the millions of fans -- goes on.

Albert will be Albert where ever he goes -- superstar, Christian, human.

Will he continue to witness where ever goes? Yeah, I think so.
Will that have an impact on the lives that he touches? Yeah, I think so.

I think that it will work out well for St. Louis. I hope that it works out well for Albert.

Perhaps it's just an occupational hazard (preacher, not ATC) to look for divine influence in life. I make no claims to understanding the "how" of God's work. I make no claims to understanding the methods of God's work.

Ultimately, the only thing that I do get some sense of understanding of is the "why" -- because of God's great love for us.

God holds nothing back when it comes to expressing His love. Jesus left the glory of heaven to live in poverty; was subjected to an oppressive ruler; was executed as a criminal. For those that serve him, some serve in poverty, some serve in wealth. Some serve at home, some are called to move.

Even though I really enjoy baseball, it's difficult to give it much importance when it comes to the big picture. Looking for divine direction is really the only way that I can make sense of life.

I know that this probably sounds pretty weird to most readers...just a thought from one fan, one brother in Jesus.