Fence Jumpers

babe ruth    Ted Engstrom, in his book “The Pursuit of Excellence” recounted the following incident from the life of Babe Ruth. He said that Babe had hit 714 home runs during his baseball career, but the day came when he was playing one of his last major league games. It was the Braves versus the Reds in Cincinnati. But the great ball player was no longer as agile or strong as he once had been. Age had begun to get the best of him and it was showing. He fumbled the ball and threw badly during that game, and in one inning alone his errors were responsible for most of the five runs scored by Cincinnati.

As he walked off the field after the third out, and headed toward the dugout, a crescendo of yelling and booing rose up. Somewhat dejected he shook his head and began to look down, but at that moment a boy jumped over the railing and ran onto the field. With tears streaming down his face, the boy threw his arms around the legs of his hero. Ruth did not hesitate for one second. He bent over and picked up the child, hugged him, and set him back down on his feet. Then he got down on one knee, patted the boy on the head, smiled and handed him the game ball.

At that moment the noise from the stands came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly there was no one booing  and on one heckling in the massive crowd. In fact, a great hush fell over the entire ballpark as they watched the two lone figures on the field. In that brief moment what the fans saw were two heroes. Ruth, who in spite of his dismal day, still took the time to uplift a little boy; and the small lad, who cared about the feelings of his hero. For him Babe had become another human being in need of comfort. The humanity of both melted the hearts of the crowd and it changed the atmosphere of the game. When Babe came to bat he was now cheered like a welcomed hero and went on to drive home several runs.

In reading this story I realized we all can go from hero to zero in no time at all. Have a bad day, make a few mistakes or just say or do the wrong thing in a moment of frustration, and everything can change. When this happens it is important to know who in the crowd of naysayers stands apart as the one who is still able see the hero in you. We need such people in our lives. They are a gift from God. They see us the way He sees us, no matter how bad the day. They still know the message of who we are, beyond the mess we are in. More importantly they are willing to jump the fence and run to our side.

I have such people in my life. These are my wife, the people in my congregation and a few fellow ministers that my heart is really connected to. These are all amazing individuals who see me for more than what I do, or don’t do. Such people have taken the time to uncover who I am, beyond my flaws, and that is a life-changing gift. They choose to patiently wait as God turns my mess into a message. Best of all, they honored the treasure which He hides within my heart during those difficult times. Of all the people I know, these are the crown jewels that make a difference in me, and how my life is lived out.

Do you have people like this in your life? If you don’t, you need to find them and keep them close. If you do have such people, don’t take them for granted and don’t put off telling them what a gift they are. In fact, I encourage you to start jumping the fence of those who have jumped yours. This is the catalyst that unlocks great things in everyone. Yes, help those who may need it, but if you invest in those who believe in you, life becomes a wonderful adventure to be enjoyed with those who hold you in high regard. In the final analysis, this is what propels everyone into the life they were made to live. So, go jump a few fences and give a game ball to those who jump yours! If you will, the life you have and give away becomes a beautiful thing!

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