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“Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” (Proverbs 19:11)

In 2003, Steve Bartman became instantly famous for a reason he in no way intended. He was rapidly labeled as the evil fan who allegedly cost the Chicago Cubs a potential clinching win during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. His instinctive attempt to catch a foul ball may have prevented Cubs left fielder Moises Alou from recording the second out in the eighth inning while protecting a three-run lead.  The Cubs were up three games to two in a best of seven series. Instead, the team surrendered eight runs in the inning and lost the game and the series to the Florida Marlins. While the Cubs argued for fan interference, an umpire ruled that the ball had departed the field of play and entered the stands where it was deflected. Bartman, a life-long Cubs fan, ended up being escorted from the stadium by security guards, showered with verbal abuse, and later placed under police protection due to hate mail and death threats.

Few people mention that a critical error by the Cubs shortstop would have ended the inning that got away. It just somehow became easier to place blame on the diehard fan, who reportedly was one of many who had reached for the ball that October day. It took another thirteen years until the Cubs won the Fall Classic, and it was the first time the team had done so in over a century. One year later in an effort to place the incident behind them, the Chicago Cubs awarded a World Series ring to Bateman in July, 2017. With it, the organization issued a statement which, in part, read: “We hope this provides closure to an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series. While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization.” Bartman stated that he was moved by the gesture and viewed it as “an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society.”  That society commented with mixed reviews.

With today’s easy access to sentiments expressed in the news and social media, it’s difficult for some people to move on.  More and more, many of our understandings are predisposed to some kind of bias. At times we judge others very harshly in the court of public opinion as if we have never made a serious blunder ourselves. In the Old Testament, we receive this counsel: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18). Jesus said: “You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:36-37). The Apostle Paul stated it this way, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13).

“Let go and let God” is a catchphrase that evolved some years ago. Working at ‘letting go’ is difficult at times, especially when we have become emotionally vested in what we are holding onto.  It is, however, what God wants us to do “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  Corrie ten Boom once wrote – “Hold everything in your hand lightly; otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” As followers of Christ, we would likely say with some degree of consideration that God owns everything. Why then would we fail to admit that the thing which you are grasping so tightly also belongs to Him?  It is because we want to maintain control. We must come to understand that we will never be able to let go on our own accord and that we will only be able to do so through His power alone. So relax your grip, and simply give all the fouls you are attempting to hold onto to the One who can actually resolve them. It is when we yield our control and abide in Him that we will truly be in line to catch the blessings in this game of life.

REFLECTION:  Reconsider the words of Proverbs 12:18 in the text above. Are you a stabber or a healer? What are the personal fouls or the fouls of others that continue to affect your life? In what ways can you begin to relinquish control and allow God to remove the blame and heal the wounds of hurt, however simple or great they might be?


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