Sunday, 23 November 2008

Closing Well - Dave Burchett

For twenty year-five years I have directed Texas Rangers baseball. And all of those seasons have taught me a valuable spiritual lesson from the National Pastime. I have learned how important it is to be a good closer.

In baseball parlance the closer is the pitcher who comes into the game in the last inning to protect the lead and finish off the win. It all comes down to the closer. If he does well the collective efforts of eight position players and the pitchers that proceeded will have a happy ending. If the closer fails all of that effort is wasted. There is nothing more demoralizing than playing a great game for eight innings and seeing it all blow-up in the last one. So what is the spiritual lesson learned from a baseball closer?

Closing out well is critical as a follower of Christ. I am praying and seeking to be a good closer in my faith walk with Jesus. Sadly that is not a given. Many great men of the Bible did not finish well. They allowed the efforts of many around them to end in frustration and anguish because they did not close well. The honest portrayal of human success and failing is something I love about God’s Word. It is one important aspect that makes the Bible unique and real.

The successes and failures are equally displayed. Men with great stories still managed to not close well. Examples? How about the story of Saul? How sad to hear words like this at the end of your journey.

“How foolish!" Samuel exclaimed. "You have disobeyed the command of the LORD your God. Had you obeyed, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the LORD's command." (1 Sam 13, NLT)

Imagine when the prophet came to Eli and proclaimed this dire message. What a kick in the spiritual gut this must have been.

"Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The terrible things you are doing cannot continue! I had promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me."
I would be willing to imagine that Saul and Eli were planning on closing well. They had moments of great leadership and fellowship with God. But they couldn’t close. You know that Saul’s story ended in madness. The results for Levi’s sons were horrific. His family needed a man who could start well, stay strong, and close it out with integrity and faith.

I want to finish strong. I want to close this journey with an effort that honors the One who was willing to finish for me. Paul understood athletics. Sports can be a good metaphor for life and he knew that well. At the end of my life race I have a couple of options that I could hear.
a) You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. (Gal 5)
b) You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4)
I choose b) for the words I want to hear.

I pray that I will close well.

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. For more information on Dave, log onto

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