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October 1, 2003

It's the championship game.  The series is tied at three games each.  The score is tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning.  There are two outs and a full count on the batter when he hits a tremendous drive to left center field.  The ball is on its way out of the stadium.  Every fan in the park is standing, screaming at the top of their lungs.  They’re going wild with excitement.  All of a sudden, the wind catches the ball and  brings it back into the stadium.  It hits the top of the wall and bounces back inside the park.


Meanwhile the runner has rounded first base and is heading for second.  The nervous outfielder can’t pick up the ball.  The runner rounds third and heads for home.  Finally, the outfielder picks up the ball, throws a relay to the shortstop, and he turns and fires a strike to the catcher.  Here comes the runner.  Here comes the ball.  The catcher puts the tag down just a split second late.  Everyone in the stadium realizes that the home team has just won the championship.  The fans are going crazy.


Suddenly, the catcher throws the ball to first base and the umpire yells, “The batter is out!  The batter is out because he failed to touch first base.”


If the Christian life is likened to a baseball game, what is “first base”?  What is it that, if we miss it, at the end of life when we’re sliding into home and we think we’re safe - the umpire will call us out for missing “first base”?”


Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6).  I’ve added the underlining to emphasize the exclusivity of what Jesus is saying.  He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life - if we want to come to God we must go through Him.  He is “first base.”


This offends our pride.  Because, we’re very good at running the bases.  We’re good at being parents, and workers, living morally upright lives.  We’re very good at being Christians - living the Christian life.  We’re good at running the bases of life.  There are very few of us - looking at our lives - that would think of ourselves as failures.


But, God says that whatever may we do - if we have not touched first base - all these things accomplish nothing for our salvation and the living of the Christian life.


Life can be lived for God or because of God.  The difference is the basis for living.  To truly live life as God intends - and to experience His power in our lives - we must come to a moment of surrender to Him.  We must come to a moment when we admit our desperate need for Him to live His life through us.


Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world - runs the bases well and even reaches home thinking he’s safe - and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).


While you’re running the bases - are you free of the guilt of past sin?  Do you have the power to continue each day - to keep running regardless of what may come or what is following behind?  Based on your example, will your family know how to safely run the bases?  Do you know where home base is?  Will you be called safe?


On the cross, Jesus offers to us life because of God - life lived by the power of the Holy Spirit - life with purpose and meaning - life freed from the guilt and penalty of our sin - life which goes on into eternity.


Don’t miss what God has given you in Jesus Christ.  Stop trying to run the bases on your own.  Touch first base.  Turn your life over to Jesus as your Savior and Lord.