“Two weeks ago, Josh Hamilton said he had a plan for participating in a clinching champagne party as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. The Texas Rangers star said it involved "goggles on, duct tape over the mouth and either a wetsuit or raincoat." But when corks finally started to pop in Oakland on Saturday night in celebration of the team's first playoff appearance since 1999, Hamilton called an audible and steered clear of the scene entirely. After hugging and shaking hands with his teammates on the field, he changed in a trainer's room and stayed away from the wet scene in the Rangers clubhouse. Not only did he want to avoid any temptation to slip up on his never-ending fight against addiction — which he has admittedly done in the past — Hamilton said he didn't want to give his fans the wrong impression.”
I’ve become a huge fan of the Texas Rangers. I haven’t always been a Rangers fan. Growing up we were big Braves fans. Our parents used to load the six of us up in our big car and make a two/three day trip to Atlanta. We would always get to go to a Braves game. During those years even with the great Hank Aaron belting home runs out of the park (we saw him hit his fourteenth Grand salame!), you could still walk up to the park and get good tickets, cheap (which was always a big plus for us!)
One of my most memorable and enjoyable summers was when I had the opportunity to serve as a summer youth intern with the great Memorial church in Houston. During that summer I watched many Astro’s games and became a big fan.
When we moved to OKC I started following the Rangers. Since moving to the Metroplex, thanks to some wonderful friends I have been able to attend many Ranger’s games, because that’s how we roll here in the Metroplex (a veiled reference for Drake & Will, are y’all reading?).
One of the many reasons I have grown to be such a big fan of the Rangers is because of the transformation of Josh Hamilton. Other reasons; we love the atmosphere at the Ballpark, the Rangers seem to work hard, Nolan Ryan has brought pitching to the Rangers (some of my friends would say, finally!), Michael Young, and it is just fun to watch them.
Okay, back to Josh. As most MLB fans will know Hamilton is a recovering alcoholic/drug user. He has fallen off the wagon a time or two, but he seems to be doing everything possible to live by his new found convictions.
This article is not about Josh’s religious convictions or about his theology, however it is about what all of us can learn from him. So, here are a few lessons we can all learn from Josh Hamilton.
IT IS NEVER TO LATE TO ESTABLISH SOME CONVICTIONS. I don’t know anything about Hamilton’s life prior to what I’ve learned during his time with the Rangers. Apparently, he lived a pretty rough life for several years. But now he has some strong convictions about what he will or will not do. He seems to be committed to not putting himself in a situation that might cause him to compromise those convictions. We should respect him for that.
There is another man I know about who changed his convictions somewhere in the middle of his life. Paul who had been a persecutor of Christianity (Galatians 1:23) became a preacher of Christianity. He also developed new convictions and he did everything possible to keep his mind/heart/life in check (1 Corinthians 9:27).
HONESTY ABOUT OUR LIVES IS HELPFUL TO OTHERS. The fact is we all sin in our lives. (1 John 1:10) There are no sins that are worse sins than others. While all sins carry some consequences, some carry larger consequences than others. When we have not been living right, the best approach we can take is to be completely up front. As a close friend of mine likes to say (borrowing a quote from the Andy Griffith Show), “It’s got to be brung out!” We need to be honest about where we are in our lives is always best.
ROLE MODELS ARE GOOD. It is refreshing to see a famous athlete take a stance like the one Hamilton has taken in this situation. We hear all to often about stars who have made a mess out of their lives. It is encouraging to hear about one who is working to turn his life around. This is the kind of story we can tell our children.
As God’s children we need to be this kind of role model. Paul said that we should be an example to others in our “speech, conduct, faith, love and purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
NO ONE OF US CAN BE PERFECT. Our loving Father knows that we will not be perfect. He is not a tyrant who is just waiting for us to fall so He can condemn us. He is the God who longs to pardon us (Isaiah 55:7; 2 Peter 3:9). When we fall, and admit our wrong, God is eager to pick us up and help us get on the right path again (Luke 15:20-24). Having said that, the goal of our life should be to strive for perfection (Philippians 3:12). We should do everything humanly possible to follow the example set for us by our Savior (1 Peter 2:21; 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Dear Father, please help us to become the kind of role models that everyone around us can emulate. Help us to make sure our values and our goals are what You want them to be. Help us, God to admit sin, and change our lives when we fall. In Jesus Name, Amen.