I think of myself as a lifelong learner, always seeking to discover something new from my experiences and the world around me. I have never been a huge fan of major league baseball, but watching the incredibly talented Houston Astros has entertained me this summer. I have learned a lot about the game, but staying focused on nine innings—or more—is a challenge.
However, in early August 2022, I discovered something new.
This story ignited a fire of controversy for baseball fans, sports news, and social media: Houston Astros all-star player Yordan Alvarez had three strikes, but the umpire did not call him out.
Wait! What? Three strikes, and you’re not out?
Allow me to tell the story using my newly acquired baseball knowledge.
The scene is Minute Maid Park in Houston, a game between the Astros and the Red Sox. It’s the bottom of the third inning, and Yordan Alvarez missed what should have been his third strike. However, the umpire, broadcasters, pitcher, batter, and catcher forgot the count. Alvarez stepped back to bat, hit a grounder to first base, and was out. His fourth strike!
While listening to commentary about this story, an object lesson touched my heart and mind. How does God view our strikes?
Even though Alverez got a fourth chance at bat, the rule in baseball should be ironclad—three strikes, and you’re out.
The three-strike rules applies to much of our lives. For example, there is a three-strike rule for repeated criminal offenses, job performance, and even sometimes with family and friends.
But this is not how God views us.
Unlike the umpires, broadcasters, pitchers, batters, and catchers, God is all-knowing. According to Psalm 139, there is nowhere we can go to escape God’s presence. He knows all about us, but He does not apply the three-strike rule despite our mistakes, sin, and fallen nature. Psalm 103:10-12 (NIV) speaks to what God does for us.
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Dear ones, remember that our God is not a God of a “fourth chance,” but of unlimited chances for forgiveness and repentance.
If our Lord had a three-strike rule, we would have all been called out long ago. Look for God in your life experiences and stories. As followers of Christ, we may feel discouraged by our failures, but we do not strike out. God can pick up the broken pieces of our lives and circumstances. He is the coach who is continually training us through His Word to be the person and servant he knows we can become.
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
Talulah Ruger, RN, MSN (MACE, 2006) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. A retired oncology nurse, she is a Bible teacher, motivational speaker, and writer. Talulah is the CEO and founder of Talulah Ruger Ministries, a teaching ministry to inspire and motivate people 50 and older to use their faith experience and life stories to positively influence the now generation and the next through intergenerational mentoring. She is also an instructor for the Opened Bible Academy.