Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail
Being a Rockies’ fan has its ups and downs—historically, there have been more downs than ups, I’m afraid. Being no-hit last night by Dodger’s pitcher Clayton Kershaw was pretty low! While it was only the third time in franchise history that no Rockies’ hitter got a hit in an official baseball game, there was a particular pain to the “no no” last night. Kershaw was picked by the Dodgers with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 Major League Draft. That means he was available when the Rockies used the second overall pick to take right-hander Greg Reynolds out of Stanford University (via http://www.baseball-reference.com). While Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher baseball has seen this generation, Reynolds is duking it out in Japan’s professional baseball league with the Saitama Seibu Lions. So far, he’s notched a very mortal 6-11 record in America’s professional baseball league. He’s 0-5 with a 5.52 ERA with the Lions (bis.npb.org.jp).
This is not intended to be a rip on Greg Reynolds or even Colorado’s front office, though the local fan base may like to see it. Nor is it simply an opportunity to vent frustration against our local diamond dwellers. It is, however, a great illustration of something that can happen elsewhere in life. Reynolds was selected so high in the draft because of potential, a record of achievement he had compiled to that point, and certain tools and traits that seemed to scouts and organizational brass like a “can’t miss” opportunity.
How often are we reminded that superior intellect, physical strength, charisma and charm, and abundant material resources alone are insufficient? Whole nations like Edom, Canaan, Egypt, and even Israel learned this in the Old Testament. Individuals with such potential, whether Samson or Saul or the Rich Young Ruler, prove that performance is the ultimate measurement over potential. “Almost” is an unsatisfactory and incomplete idea, as is nearly, close, and “could have been.” The graveyard is littered with stories of those who did not parlay potential into performance. History’s pages portray so many figures who flirted with greatness without getting there.
The stakes are different for us. It’s not millions of dollars, All-Star status, or the Hall of Fame (or even being able to stick on a Major League roster). Intentions are insufficient. Action is all-important. When we are thinking about God’s commands and considering that eternity is at stake, we must have more than tools and talents. We must, simply, do (Mat. 7:21; Luke 6:46).
How often does the college application process for a single student make the front page of a national paper like USA Today? It happened on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. The feature centered around the academic ambitions of a Shirley, New York, Senior, whose academic future would seem secure and assumably provided for. He made history when last week he opened an acceptance letter from Harvard University. That alone is impressive, but that letter made it complete. Every single one of the eight Ivy League colleges formally accepted Kwasi Enin as a student. It is amazing that Kwasi would apply to all of them, and almost unheard of to be “invited to attend them all” (Greg Toppo, 1 A, 4/1/14). His guidance counselor said, “It’s a big deal when we have students apply to one or two Ivies. To get into one or two is huge. It was extraordinary” (ibid.).
So maybe our congregation does not have any academic prodigies like Kwasi Enin. With all due and considerable respect, we have something even better. We have a large repository of talent and spirituality in our midst among our youth and teens. Their dreams are endless. They dare to do great things, ask friends to services, stand up for their faith, share profound spiritual thoughts, and much more that we, as adults, find jaw-dropping. They reach for the sky because they are too young to be bothered with such mole hills as worry, fear, and limitation! They believe they can change the world and make it a better place and their faith in Christ can put some of ours to shame.
When Paul tells Timothy to let no one look down on him because he is young (1 Tim. 4:12), he is speaking to us, too. Our youth have growing and maturing to do. They will accrue wisdom and experience in the process of time. But, may we help nurture their enthusiasm and stoke their optimism. They need to keep it. We need them to keep it. With dark days ahead, we will depend on the faith and valiant efforts of today’s youth! May we recognize how truly amazing they are and help them see how important they are to God’s work.