Anyone who's ever played baseball or softball knows the exhilaration of getting a basehit. Literally, you're a "hit." Likewise, you know the dejection and feelings of utter failure if you should strike out. Also literally, you're a failure. The goal is to hit the ball, not miss it. If you miss it, you didn't make your goal. You failed.
I was blessed by something I heard the late Jack Frost speak of on You Tube. He spoke of his journey into ministry, and all the things he'd been "taught" along the way. Note as you read; you don't have to be in ministry to have been taught these things in the church. They're almost a standard lesson for all who profess to be His......Frost talked of how, when he came to Christ, he was filled with His joy, and soon felt what he believed to be a call to full time ministry. He went off to Bible College, and there began his "education." He began to be taught about the value of a disciplined prayer and Bible study lifestyle. What he heard seemed to suggest that unless he began each day with at least 30 minutes of prayer and study, he would be missing out. What he heard was that he wouldn't be a "hit." He reasoned that if 30 minutes was good, an hour was even better. Eventually it grew to 3 hours each day. He took an evangelism class which required that he go out each Friday and spend 6 hours witnessing to total strangers about their need for Christ. On Monday, they were to report the number they witnessed to, and how many prayed to know Jesus. High numbers meant you were a hit, low ones that you missed, struck out. An introvert, this was very hard for Frost, but he pushed himself, going out each Friday, determined that his numbers should rise. Eventually, he went into the ministry, and each month he needed to report his church numbers. Good or increasing numbers were a hit, low or decreasing ones a definite miss. So, he threw himself into the work, and in his first year, though exhausted, he reported the fasting growing church on his region, and was duly recognized as such. One year and three months later, burnt out, he was out of ministry.
As Frost told this story, he had brought a young man to the front of the church. The man came with empty arms and hands, but as Frost described each step of his journey, he would put a potted plant in the mans arms. Eventually, he was completely hidden by the plants, and could no longer hold them, or have any added to them. He had to have someone come and take them from his hands. He was immobilized as he tried to hold all of them, which was beyond his ability to do. I wonder, after hearing this, does it speak to you and I about how we see our life, our walk, our relationship with Him, and our living out that relationship for Him? Does a life in Him, meant to be full and rich in freedom, instead end up making us feel like "hits," when we succeed, as the rules define a hit, or like "strikeouts," when we miss the goal that the rules say we must reach?
I don't mean that we in the church purposely teach these "rules," only that somehow, this is how we hear the teaching, and all our efforts go into getting a hit, which will please Him and His people, and so avoid striking out, which will surely displease them. Paul said that it is by grace that we are saved, by grace that we are kept, and by grace we can go on. Grace doesn't add more and more potted plants to our walk. Grace doesn't require that we get a hit, and doesn't condemn when we strike out. Grace brings us to Himself, and makes us more and more like Himself. Dudley Hall said that Christ not only lives in us, but lives for us. That's what Paul meant when he said that the life he now lived he lived in Christ. That Christ was his life, and his life was Christ. No more potted plants, no more obsession with getting a hit. Just a life lived out in Him, doing only what we see Him doing, saying only what we hear Him saying. Why do we accept that we can be saved by His grace, but cannot be kept by it, live in it? Why do we so easily end up living by "Christian Law," always trying to work harder in order to please Him, and others, more? Why do we insist on adding more and more potted plants to our lives, to the point where we can not only not be seen, but we can't see Him? Today, will you and I reach for and hold in our grip our potted plant(s), or Him? The Law requires the plant, grace blesses us with Christ.