In 2005, Adam Greenberg, rookie Chicago Cubs baseball player, was living the dream of countless young boys as he walked up to home plate for his first time at bat in the big leagues. But before he could even swing, the dream came to an abrupt halt when he was struck in the head by a 92-mile-per-hour fastball thrown by the Miami Marlins pitcher. Although Greenberg left the field under his own power, it looked as if his promising career in the major leagues was over with one pitch.
Fast-forward to the present to meet baseball fans Matt Liston and his wife, Marisa, who, hearing about Greenberg’s misfortune, believed that after his years of hard work and dedication to baseball, he deserved a second chance. They started a “One at Bat” campaign to persuade a professional team to give Greenberg one more time at bat (something that hadn’t happened since his injury). The movement caught on, and much to Greenberg’s amazement, thousands of supporters came on board.
During a recent interview on “The Today Show,” Greenberg was offered one more time at bat as a Miami Marlin in a game against the New York Mets Tuesday night. Upon hearing the offer, an incredulous Greenberg said to David Samson, president of the Marlins: “I can’t address and express how much it means to me and all the people that are around [me]. This isn’t just about me or an at-bat. You don’t have to do this. The Marlins organization [and] baseball in general doesn’t owe me anything.” Regardless of the outcome of his turn at bat, Greenberg’s second chance is a shared victory for everyone who loves to see well-deserved dreams come true.
Hearing Greenberg’s heartwarming story reminded me of all the second chances I’ve been given and my gratitude for those who helped me. It’s pretty common, in fact, to need a second chance along the way. Sometimes, like Greenberg, it’s a chance at another opportunity. Since not all paths we take lead to happiness and fulfillment, sometimes what’s needed is a better way of life, along with forgiveness and freedom from guilt. What then?
I look to the Bible for guidance. The New Testament tells of many who turned to Christ Jesus, the Way-shower, for a second chance. He taught that forgiveness has two sides – on one side, the need for forgiveness, and on the other, the willingness to forgive.
The ultimate example of forgiveness is given in Luke 23:34. When Jesus is unjustly crucified, instead of condemning his accusers, he says, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” I have often thought that if Jesus can show mercy and understanding at a time like that, I can and should do likewise.
That chapter of Luke continues with a conversation Jesus had with one of the criminals who was hanging on a cross next to him. The criminal said that he knew he deserved to be there, but that Jesus hadn’t committed any crime. He recognized Jesus as the Son of God and asked for mercy, saying, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The prayer of repentance was answered with forgiveness.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, also conveyed the power of repentance with this encouragement: “[I]n speechless prayer, ask God to enable you to reflect God, to become His own image and likeness, even the calm, clear, radiant reflection of Christ’s glory, healing the sick, bringing the sinner to repentance, and raising the spiritually dead in trespasses and sins to life in God” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 150). One key to forgiveness and a blessed way of life is to reflect Christly qualities and recognize them in others, knowing we share a spiritual heritage.
At one time or another, we all need second chances – sometimes more. We can be assured that as a child of God, we are worthy of His love and care and will get as many opportunities (do-overs) as we need to get things right.