Ubaldo Jimenez threw a horrible pitch to Edwin Encarnacion to end the American League Wild Card game. As I was watching the game I saw the ball come out of his hand and knew that the game was over. Whether or not Encarnacion hit it as hard and far as he did, I think most people saw the result coming. As we look at the picture above the world tells us that Encarnacion, winning a game in such dramatic fashion, hitting a baseball as far as he did, is a mark of true manhood. However, I believe walking off that mound, as Jimenez did last night, is a critical moment in the life of a man. You see, baseball teaches us a lot about failure. Failure is part of the process of growth for a man to reach his true identity as a man. To walk off the mound, in front of 50,000 people going crazy because of your failure is a defining moment.
While most of us will not get to experience this moment. All men will go through something in life that will challenge them, and cultivate them into the man they are molded to be.
When we look at the life of Jesus, the mark of true masculinity, we can see this moment come through multiple times. Specifically, I want to draw us to look at Christ’s moment in the Garden of Gethsemane as a defining moment in Christ’s life.
Matthew 26:36-46 says, “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Jesus experience here shows us that true masculinity, a masculinity that is devoted and fully committed to the King of the Universe is a masculinity that is tried through hard things. A masculinity that is honoring to God is one that takes on challenges, that takes on failures, that brings us to the end of ourselves, is a masculinity that God is calling us into. How can baseball help us shape that masculine heart? As we deal with strikeouts in key situations, giving up walk off hits, errors on routine plays, we can stand encouraged that however small these things are, they are challenges that are shaping our heart into the masculine heart that God desires.