They had already announced that Denver’s new biggest celebrity, Peyton Manning, was at the game. It was the bottom of the eighth with two outs and the bases loaded. Todd Helton was announced as a pinch-hitter. The count was two balls and two strikes when Helton, who has made so many big plays in his long career, promptly deposited Tim Byrdak’s slider into the second deck of the right-field bleachers. Manning, who replaced Helton as University of Tennessee’s quarterback when both were in college, was obviously impressed. Though the Rockies eventually lost that game in extra innings, there is no doubt Helton felt some satisfaction for rising to the occasion before so august a VIP.
I do not have many such moments of my own, with my sports “career” being very brief and played out before much smaller audiences. I will never forget playing defensive end in a Spring, Junior Varsity football game and sacking the quarterback twice. My dad was in the stands, and it felt good to do good with him watching.
One of my favorite hymns, though not in most songbooks, is entitled, “Since Jesus Is My Friend.” Paul Gerhardt’s hymn reads,
Since Jesus is my friend, and I to him belong,
it matters not what foes intend, however fierce and strong.
He whispers in my breast, sweet words of holy cheer;
How they who seek in God their rest shall ever find Him near.
My heart for gladness springs; It cannot more be sad;
For very joy it laughs and sings, sees naught but sunshine glad.
The Sun that lights mine eyes is Christ, the Lord I love;
I sing for joy of that which lies stored up for me above.
Is there a thought more thrilling and comforting than that Jesus is our friend? Jesus acknowledges the possibility that we can be in a friendship with Him (John 15:14). It is conditional, but possible. We “come up big” before this friend when we do what He commands us to do. He is gentle, compassionate, loving, and caring while at the same time being powerful, limitless Deity. No thought drives me harder than of impressing and delighting my friend. What about you?