When Life Throws You A Curve

Sometimes life throws you a curve.  It happened to Mordecai.  As a seven-year-old kid, he was on the losing end of a tug-of-war with the corn shredder on his uncle’s farm.  In an instant the machine gobbled a portion of the index finger on his right hand.  Strike one.

Just a few weeks later and with the wound barely healed, young Mordecai eyed a second curve breaking across the plate.  He was chasing a rabbit on the same farm when he fell and broke the second and third finger of the same hand.  Specialists and emergency room visits were not standard fare in the late 19th century.  The fingers would heal but with an unusual gnarled shape.  Strike two.

Facing a two-strike count in the game of life, Mordecai Brown dug in.  Despite his handicap he played the national pastime--and he played it well. His prowess on the diamond won him a spot as a semi-pro infielder.  When the team's star pitcher broke his arm, Brown walked to the hill.  In his first appearance he struck out fourteen of the fifteen batters he faced, using the same pitch life had thrown his way -- the curve.

In 1908, Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown, alias “Three Finger” Brown, won twenty-nine games for the Chicago Cubs, a record that still stands today. In 1909, he led the Majors with twenty-seven wins. He also topped the league in complete games and saves. Ty Cobb, arguably the greatest hitter the game of baseball has ever seen, said of Brown’s curve, “It was the most devastating pitch I ever faced.” Just how good was “Three Finger” Brown?  Open up a Major League record book and you will find his name next to Matthewson, Johnson, Jenkins; the elite of his craft.

Sometimes life throws you a curve.  It is not the pitch that makes you, but what you do with it that counts!

Most motivational talks stop there. In doing so they fail to recognize that even inward mojo is a function of the common grace of God. Common grace is the teaching that the goodness and kindness of God extends to all people. All people feel sunshine, receive the rain, and can learn from and about creation. InManual Of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof writes, "It is the affection the Creator feels toward the frail creatures he has made ... it is sometimes called His love of benevolence or His common grace, to designate the fact that its bounties are undeserved." (Berkhof, Manual Of Christian Doctrine, page 23)

Believers rightly celebrate the saving grace of God. We must. God rescues us from death and gives us life through Jesus (John 14:6). But God's common grace extends to all:

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:8-9 ESV)  Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17 ESV).

Understanding God's common grace enables me to marvel all the more at the way His creatures bounce back from adversity and overcome even the most unusual challenges. It is God's kindness that enabled an Indiana farm boy to throw back the pitch that life had thrown at him. As the Psalmist writes, The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.We praise Him for that too!