The Lord is doing some incredible things in professional sports. I’m not sure if I can think of another secular sub-set of culture where Christ is being acknowledge and raised up more than in sports.
Last night the Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win the American League Divisional Series and will now go on to face the New York Yankees in the championship series. (In case you don’t know, we are talking baseball here). In MLB (and all sports really) tradition, the team was going to douse one another after the game with champagne and enjoy a victory party in the clubhouse. For Josh Hamilton, that just simply wasn’t an option.
Josh knows the importance of team unity, especially at this level and at this point in the season. This is the first time the Texas Rangers have reached this point in franchise history, so there is much to celebrate. The most important thing that Josh Hamilton would want to do in those moments after the victory was to celebrate with his teammates, to draw even closer together through celebration, and to acknowledge how important this time is to him. But that just simply wasn’t an option.
Josh is a Christian. Josh is also a recovering alcoholic. In one of the most moving and heart touching interviews I have ever seen, just minutes after winning the ALDS, Josh was outside the big room where every other team member was screaming, laughing, and pouring champagne on each other. When asked why Josh was not in there with them, he simply said, “I don’t need to be around that stuff (alcohol).” Josh earlier had said how quickly and masterfully Satan can work horrific influences back into a believer’s life and that he will do nothing that will “take my focus of the most important thing in my recovery, which is my relationship with Christ.”
I always pull for the National League. But it will be tough not to be rooting for the Texas Rangers from this point forward because of how the team has responded to Josh. Instead of getting upset or feeling betrayed by their teammate, the Ranger’s appreciated Josh’s commitment to his Savior and to himself. So, they purchased a box-load of ginger ale and used that to celebrate with Josh instead of champagne. There was still unity, he was still part of the team.
This scenario last night is a national example of the practical working out of Matthew 5:29-30 which says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. . .” Christ is obviously speaking in hyperbole here and yet we see Josh Hamilton tearing out his eye and throwing it away. Complete removal from the things that we know put us in danger. So, here is a big shout out to Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers. Keep it up my friend, great is your reward.