Survival Light

Tim Wakefield was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox who threw a knuckleball pitch. That’s a really strange type of pitch, where the ball isn’t thrown very fast, but it doesn’t rotate. That means that the ball can move in a lot of unpredictable ways, making it tough to hit. But it can also get out of your own control, too. When Tim Wakefield was in the minor leagues, he wasn’t a pitcher, he was playing what he had always played: first base. That is, until he found out it was all over. He was told by the coaches that he was never going to make it to the big leagues.

It was then, when it seemed all over, when the darkness gathered around him, that he decided to try to learn the knuckle ball. He said at the time, “I just want to be able to say I tried everything I could to make it” to the big leagues.

Tim Wakefield was a survivor.

These days, it is the 10 year anniversary of the Red Sox beating the New York Yankees to win the American League in 2004, and … well, let me set the stage for what happened.

Here are the Boston Red Sox, winners of a total of 0 World Series since 1918. Cursed. On the other side are the New York Yankees, winners of 26, and a lot times, kicking the Red Sox out of the way to do it. Blessed. Now, the Yankees have won the first two games of the series to try to get the 4 you need to go to the World Series. It is the third game, and the Yankees are starting to really pile it on in the fourth inning, they’re up 11-6. The Red Sox relief pitchers are already tired, and now they’ll have to come back out and pitch a game that’s really pretty much lost. So the Red Sox are facing a situation where they’re about to enter the fourth game of the series having lost the first 3, getting humiliated on their own home field, and with a bunch of relievers with nothing left for energy.

That’s when it seemed like it was all over for the Red Sox, when the darkness seemed to gather all around.

It was at that moment that the whole series turned around.

That’s when Tim Wakefield, who was scheduled to start the next game, decided to go to the manager Terry Francona, and offer to skip his start and instead enter the game now. Why? Because a knuckleballer can keep pitching forever, they throw slow, crazy pitches, so they don’t get tired. The relievers on the Red Sox needed a rest to be able to pitch in the next game, when there’s a chance to win. Every pitcher prefers to start than be a reliever, but Tim Wakefield offers to sacrifice his chance to start the next game, to serve the team. Because he really wants it, and he’s ready to try everything possible.

He’s a survivor.

So Francona looks at him and asks, “Go find out if Lowe can start tomorrow.” So Wakefield went and asked Derek Lowe if he could start tomorrow. “Yeah!” he smiled. So in went Wakefield and sucked up over 3 innings of work and saved the relievers.

Do you know that the next game went into extra innings? 3 more innings! But the Red Sox were prepared, they had rested relievers. They were able to keep the Yankees without scoring any runs … and the Red Sox won. And then they won the next game. And the next. And the next. You know the story.

The impossible happened.

For the first time ever, a team came back from 3 games down to win a playoff series. Never happened before. Not only that, it was the Red Sox who did it to the Yankees. Never happened before. Instead of the Yankees doing something humiliating to the Red Sox, now everything was turned upside down.

The curse was reversed.

And the Red Sox went on to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

As Survivors.

Because of … Tim Wakefield.

You see, in that dark moment in game 3, the Red Sox needed a guy who had been in that position before, the position when everything looks like it’s over, when the darkness gathers around. They needed a guy who knew you could come out of that darkness, who knew that if you really want it, if you’re willing to try everything and not quit, you can make it – because he was living proof of it himself. In that very moment, the Red Sox needed one person to be a light, a catalyst, to be a source of confidence and generosity when it’s the moment for everyone to be discouraged and closed up. They needed a first baseman who had become a knuckleballer.

They needed a survival light.

Do you know where I think the greatest value is in Jesus’ sufferings and His death? It’s in the fact that we are going to go through sufferings too. We are going to die too. It’s then that we’re going to need someone on our team who has faced that reality when it all seems over, when the darkness gathers around. He’s the one what can turn things upside down. And reverse the curse.

So, when you have struggles and sufferings, when it seems like a dream is all over and the darkness gathers around, don’t think for a minute that those struggles are not valuable. Someday, someone is going to need a person who has gone down that path. They’re going to be in that same boat, and they’re going to need someone who can be generous and confident when it’s so easy to be discouraged and closed up. They’re going to need a light, a catalyst that sparks hope. Someone who had made sacrifices and didn’t give up on their dream. A source for reversing curses and making the impossible happen.

They’re going to need a survival light.

They’re going to need you.

I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)


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