Baseball players face many fork-in-the-road moments that have life-altering consequences. For many drafted players, the decision is to choose between going pro or going to college. For high school underclassmen, the decision is to choose a college and baseball program that will be a great fit. For some it is whether to continue playing baseball at all.
After being back in the big leagues for a while, Roy Hobbs from The Natural isn’t getting the time he feels he deserves. When his manager, Pop Fisher, tells him that he’s going to be sent down, Roy faces a fork in the road - to accept the news and go to the minor leagues or stand up for his chance. Roy stands up and his story changes. He’s been biding his time, waiting patiently, and begins his journey to transformation.
Scripture has many of these same fork-in-the-road moments in the story of God’s people. One that has been resonating with me here recently is that of Stephen in Acts 7. We first meet Stephen in Acts 6 as he is chosen as one of those “who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” to fulfill the ministry of God’s word. Stephen becomes well-know for performing “great wonders and signs among the people,” but is brought before the Sanhedrin for blasphemy.
Stephen’s fork-in-the-road moment begins in Acts 7:1 when he is asked, “Are these charges true?” For 50 verses, Stephen eloquently explains the story of God and His people, most often citing stories back to the age surrounding Moses. And, while I’m sure those in the Sanhedrin were increasing with anger throughout Stephen’s outline of the failures of people to recognize that which was right in front of their eyes, I’m going to say that Acts 51-53 is what pushed everything over the edge:
You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.
Oh boy. Stephen’s statements were surely true, but I’m not planning on making a habit of running around calling people “stiff-necked” any time soon.
We all face fork-in-the-road moments that change our lives. For Hobbs, it transforms him into a hero on the big screen. For Stephen, it transforms him into one of the early martyrs of the Christian church. The key is to face your fear as you hesitate in that moment, seek the wisdom of God, and embrace how the Lord wishes to transform you during the upcoming journey.