Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton has suffered through a two-month slump, batting barely over .200 since June 1.
There was rampant speculation as to what was ailing Hamilton, the five-time All Star, the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player. Some thought marital problems. Some others thought a relapse into the drug and alcohol abuse with which the 31-year-old struggled in a past life.
But the Rangers basher ended the speculation yesterday, releasing a statement in which he attributed his recent problems at the plate to his disobedience to God. More specifically, his failure to quit chewing tobacco.
Hamilton’s statement elicited predictable derision from those who do not share his Christian faith.
Like the snarky writer for Dallas Magazine who mocked, “So God is punishing Hamilton for using tobacco, and that’s why this year he’s been swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone than anyone else in the majors?”
Hamilton should not expect such nonbelievers to understand. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” the Scripture advises, “but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Hamilton is being saved by God’s grace. He has been convicted by the Holy Spirit.
Clearly tobacco is a stronghold in the baseballer’s life; a threat to return him to the life of substance abuse he overcame. God is seeking to protect the young man from the demons that previously enslaved him.
Those of us who are Christ followers empathize with Hamilton. For there is none righteous among us. No, not one.
We all have strongholds in our lives: Habits, behaviors, practices that, if not sinful, lead us into temptation. And they are different for every Christian.
In Hamilton’s case, it’s tobacco, which, for him, is a gateway to hard drugs and alcohol. For another believer, it could be the love of money. And for still another, the stronghold could be pornography.
A former pastor of mine mentioned a man who told him that the Holy Spirit moved him to drop out of his fantasy baseball leagues. That’s right. He was so obsessed with his hobby that it got to the point that he was neglecting his wife and kids.
Now that Hamilton is addressing his personal stronghold, now that he has renewed his commitment to crucify the flesh daily, I expect the slugger’s performance at the plate to improve.
For whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.