The greatest big-game pitcher of his era, and perhaps of all-time, Gibson almost single-handedly won two World Series for the Cardinals in the 1960s, and nearly won another. He was the ultimate warrior on the mound – mean and focused on one thing – winning. Gibson dominated with his fastball, sharp slider and a slow, looping curveball. In 1968, he enjoyed one of the most dominating seasons in baseball history, posting a 1.12 ERA and winning 22 games. Twice he was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series, and he is the only pitcher to win Game Seven and hit a home run in the same game. Gibson was a fierce competitor who rarely smiled and was known to throw brushback pitches to let batters know who was in charge.
If you have known me very long (more than five minutes), you have probably heard me say, “God never ceases to amaze me!” Maybe that’s why I woke up at 5 o’clock this morning thinking of him (God) and Bob Gibson.
I don’t remember much about Bob Gibson, but I do remember two things: the way he threw a curveball and the way he “pushed” players off the plate when they were leaning in too far. It was his plate and anyone who dared invade that space better hang onto his head!
I’ve learned this week that God is alot like Bob Gibson. Perhaps, I should explain…
This week, I attempted (three times) to keep myself calm enough to go into a MRI machine. I had tons of people praying for me. I had fellow patients pray with me before I went for my tests. I have had a calm about me that convinced me that I was ready…until…they put the “cage” over me. Designed to keep your head from moving, it strongly resembles a catcher’s mask. To the techs, it is a necessary piece of equipment. To me, it was a medieval torture devise! One that evoked an animalistic “fight or flee” response from me. Sheer terror the second it was locked into place…all three times!
Knowing that the neurologists needed the MRI results before they could perform a spinal tap on me, I assumed that my stay here was rapidly coming to an end. In fact, I was told as much by the director after my first failed attempt. Get the MRI done or leave.
Fellow patients rallied around me, with words of encouragement and prayers. Other doctors on the team worked with me, trying to get me to a point that I could have the MRI done…but it was not to be.
I sat outside of the conference room where our “rounds” were held and waited my turn. I used this time to pump myself up and telling God that I was ready for battle. As the patient before me exited the room, I readied myself to face the enemy. But before I could go in, I could hear voices in the room begin to argue. It was loud enough that the patients sitting with me, stopped their conversations at the sound. I couldn’t make out any words that were said, but five minutes later, they called my name to come in.
I walked into the conference room, prepared to make my last stand. I had prayed and felt totally at peace. Once again, I didn’t understand why God would bring me this far and have me leave empty handed…but if that was the way the story ended, so be it. I had my speech in hand…how wonderful and supportive the doctors and nurses had been…how I appreciated all of their support and encouragement….and (me on my high horse) how the director, while obviously a gifted physician, could use a lesson or two in compassion.
I felt very powerful…very much in control as I walked into that meeting. And then…
God threw His curveball and brushed me off the plate.
Instead of asking or demanding me to leave, the director, even before I had sat down in my chair, was asking me if I thought I could handle a CT scan instead of the required (demanded) MRI.
I know I must have had a look of shock on my face. I was prepared for battle. I had my sword-sharp tongue, ready to slay Golliath. But God had other plans.
I looked to my left, at one of the other doctors, who winked at me. Wow! What happened here? I looked around the room at all the smiling faces and then I looked back at the director. I sat down in my chair slowly and he repeated the question: Could I handle the CT scan. Oh, yes, without a worry I can! But how in the world?
It’s really quite simple. While I was busy crowding the plate, God not only brushed me off of it, he brought in a couple of pinch hitters for me! Doctors and nurses that went to bat for me before I entered the room.
Instead of delivering what I thought would be a “director humbling” speech, I received a lesson in humility of my own. How many times does God have to remind me that He is the one that in control. He had already put the wheels in motion and secured the victory. I was just crowding the plate, getting in His space. I tried to raise myself to God’s level…and nearly got knocked on my backside!
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Maybe this time the lesson will stick. Maybe this time I will remember to pray for and not against my “enemey.” If not, I’m sure God will be on the mound, 60 feet, 6 inches away, ready to throw me a Bob Gibson special!
Shoeless Joe Jackson: The last two have been high and tight, so where do you think the next one’s gonna be? Archie Graham: Well, either low and away… or in my ear.
Shoeless Joe: He’s not gonna want to load the bases, so look for low and away… But watch out for in your ear.
–Field of Dreams