Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
It's that time of year again in the United States. It's World Series time: baseball's final playoff for the title. So, let me ask you this spiritual question: "Can you see home plate?" That doesn't sound very spiritual, does it?
Let me explain. Baseball was one of the most popular motifs in Charles Schultz' Peanuts comic strip. In one strip, we find Charlie Brown standing in center field in the midst of weeds that are higher than he is. All you can see is his glove over the weeds. Charlie Brown then says, "This team needs a center fielder, and I don't mind playing center field. But where is home plate?"
Have you ever felt like that? You are in the game of life trying to play the game to the best of your abilities, but the world has surrounded you with so many weeds you can't see home plate or, for that matter, you can't even see the other players on the team. There are the weeds of responsibilities, financial problems, marital problems, child raising, job demands, keeping up the home, paying the bills, medical problems, relationship problems, and then, of course, our daily struggles with our own mistakes and sins. The weeds just keep growing higher and higher, and eventually we can't even see our goal or remember which direction we are supposed to look at all. We know home plate is out there -- somewhere -- but right now we just can't see it.
In today's verse, though, James reminds us, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God Himself has promised to those who love Him." Our Heavenly Father doesn't just put us in this game of life to lose. He has made it possible for us to win. He sent His Son to cut down the weeds of sin, difficulties, and life struggles. Jesus Christ stands in the midst of the weeds with us. He entered the game of life so that we can clearly see home plate -- our heavenly home.
Although Charlie Brown's team never seemed to win a game, our situation is totally different. We are assured of a win. Jesus Christ came into our game of life. He crossed every base we human beings must cross, yet without a mistake. He won the game for us on Easter Sunday when, after His death on Calvary, He rose from the dead and was crowned Winner over sin, death and the devil. In our Baptism, we were put on His team and His victory became our victory. His trophy, the crown of life, becomes our trophy. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the weeds on the field of life do not -- or no longer -- keep us from seeing home plate. We have a clear view of the victory that is ours because we are a member of His team. It is the apostle Paul who shouts from the grandstand: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).
So I ask you, are the weeds high on your playing field? Are you having a difficult time seeing home plate? Are you having a difficult time playing the position God has given you on the team? James encourages you to hang in there because you are going to win this game in Christ. There is no doubt about it. You are not going to win it by yourself though, but with Jesus Christ you are a sure winner. With Christ you can clearly see home plate, and that's very good indeed.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me see clearly the real victory I have by faith in You. Give me a clear sense of home plate with You by grace. Amen!
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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