“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26
On April 23, 2022, Detroit Tigers Designated Hitter Miguel Cabrera drove a single into right field to collect the 3,000th hit of his illustrious career. Long considered a major achievement in the sport, Cabrera, has become the thirty-third player in major league history to reach this milestone. Thirty-three players having reached this plateau may not seem so exclusive. But when you consider that as of May 1, 2022, there have been 20,042 people to have played Major League Baseball since its beginning in 1876. This means that currently, only .001646 of players have accomplished this (roughly 1 out of every 607 players). This feat will also grow scarcer over the next several years as the next players with a reasonable shot of reaching 3,000 hits don’t yet have 2,000 hits.
Still not impressed? Consider these other feats.
…1 of only 7 people to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
…1 of only 3 people to have 3,000 hits, 500 HRs, and 600 doubles.
…1 of only 2 people to have 3,000 hits, 500 HRs, 600 doubles, and a lifetime batting average over .300
…The only player to have 3,000, 500, 600, .300 and to have won a batting triple crown (2012).
I know that I am biased, but I tend to think that’s pretty good.
As a lifelong Tiger fan, I have enjoyed watching this run toward the milestones. I was just a little too young to remember Al Kaline’s 3,000th hit, so this has been pretty cool to watch. I enjoyed the video display the team shared in the half inning after the hit. It was short congratulatory remarks from several other players from the 3,000-hit club. The video I found to be most interesting was shared by George Brett, the great third baseman from the Kansas City Royals from the 70’s and 80’s, who recognized Miggy for two accomplishments. Here’s what Brett said:
“Congratulations on getting No. 3,000. It’s a great club, very happy you joined it. On top of that, though, it’s another great club to be able to say you made 7,000 outs. Congrats, I’ll see you in Cooperstown soon, pal.”
The 7,000-out club? Is that a thing? Why yes, it is! Fifty-five of baseball’s greatest are a part of this unique group, including twenty-six of the members of the 3,000-hit club. It’s crazy but it’s true; the hitters with the greatest levels of success are also those with the greatest levels of failure.
This idea, while strange, makes sense when you think about it. Those players were so good at hitting baseballs that they were given more opportunities to swing over longer careers. This concept holds true to other areas of our lives. High achievers are rewarded with more opportunities to achieve than those who struggle. But nobody is perfect. More often than not, things don’t go the way we hoped or planned and we find ourselves failing. Truly successful people have figured out ways to overcome their failures, to learn from them and to keep pushing toward their goals. Hitters in baseball forget the last pitch and focus solely on what they need to do as they face the next pitch. That ability to accept failure without letting it dominate them is what allows them to perform so well at a task where the very best will fail more than they succeed.
We as Christians face a similar set of circumstances. Imagine if they kept stats on our thoughts, words and deeds in the same way they track baseball statistics. We’d all like to think that we could rank high on the good deeds list. Maybe we are an all-time great at volunteering, donations, or praying for others. These would be wonderful things to which we should aspire, but they only tell a part of the story. Because like a baseball player comparing hits to outs, Christians can compare the moments we follow God’s will to the sins that dominate our lives. I don’t mean to brag, but I think I am on course for a Hall-of-Shame career based on my “Sin Percentage.” Here’s our reality: despite our best efforts, we are sinful. For every accomplishment, we have a multitude of failures. Like baseball players, we can overcome these struggles. Unlike baseball players, we do so without the need for batting practice and spring training.
As a unique creation made in the very image of God, we hold a special place in the heart of our Lord. When sin tainted our hearts, it did nothing to diminish the love that God has for us. He immediately set into place the plan designed to give us forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. Jesus lived among us as true man. His death and resurrection defeated sin, death, and any power that Satan might try to wield over us. Will we still fail when it comes to sin? Absolutely. Thousands and thousands of times in fact. But for every sin there is forgiveness, and this without ceasing. Consider the words of Psalm 76, where we are reminded that, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This doesn’t mean that we can live in any way we choose. We still must strive to do God’s will as best we can. However, it does assure us that His love, His mercy, His grace is sufficient to overcome the times when we fail. Our sin no longer defines us. Our record is cleared and our relationship to the Father is restored, and there is no cooler club to join than to be one of God’s redeemed children. May God bless you to live your life in a way that brings glory and honor to His holy name. Live without fear of your failures, knowing that He will sustain you in every circumstance.
Statistics used collected from baseball-reference.com, baseball-almanac.com, and @jaysonst