Like most young boys growing up in Indiana, I collected baseball cards and dreamed about one day playing for my favorite professional team. I remember cherishing a specialty card in my collection with a picture of one major league baseball player teaching others how to hit a baseball. The words “Ted Shows How” appeared across the top of the card. That’s “Ted” as in Ted Williams.
Ted Williams is still the best hitter the game of baseball has ever produced. Aspiring players marvel at his lifetime batting average of .344 and 521 home runs. To this day, he remains the only player to hit .400 for a full single season, finishing at .406 to be exact. Williams literally wrote the book called The Science of Hittingafter he retired from baseball and had time to think about why he was so successful.
People like Ted Williams know there is no such thing as an overnight success. The modern celebrity culture makes us think otherwise by confusing fame with the kind of achievement that only comes by hard work over a long period of time. Athletes, artists, musicians, business people, and the like all know that it takes discipline and a long determination in the same direction to accomplish anything worthwhile in this life. The same is true in the Christian life. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in making disciples of us requires a “long obedience in the same direction.”
I am not suggesting we must work hard to achieve salvation and possess eternal life. On the contrary, we are not saved bygood works but forgood works (Ephesians 2:8-10). The Bible also says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
The working out of your salvation happens as you cooperate with the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit in what is also called discipleship. Work out your faith in the good times and in the bad times, when God feels close and when He seems far away. Work it out, knowing that God is also at work in you.
The journey is short from the word “disciple” to the word “discipline.” A disciple of Jesus Christ is a disciplined person. In fact, the apostle Paul encourages his young protégé in the ministry named Timothy by saying, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and alsofor the lifeto come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NAS).
Like Ted Williams who showed others how to hit a baseball, Jesus shows us how to live the Christian life successfully by inviting us to follow Him and learn from Him (Matthew 4:19, 11:29). Today, I wish I still had that Ted Williams baseball card in my possession. Unfortunately, my mother sold my entire box of baseball cards in a garage sale when I was in college. I know, I know. Don’t get me started. Fortunately, Jesus promised to always be with us even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
This blog is an excerpt from Starting Point: A Disciple's First Steps.Starting Point is an online discipleship coaching experience by Dr. Ron Jones.