I grew up in the town of Jonesville in Yadkin County.  I remember going to downtown Elkin as a child with my mother when she had errands to run or shopping to do.  In one particular store there was a piece of paper taped to the wall behind the cash register.  On that paper was a poem.  I’ve never forgotten it.

The Optimist

I passed a sandlot yesterday where some kids were playing ball.
I walked along the third base line within the fielder’s call.

I called and asked, “Hey! What’s the score?” and he said, to beat the stuffin’,
“There’s no one out, the bases full and they’re forty two to nothin’”

I said, “You’re gettin’ beat then lad”, but he said as quick as that, *(snap)*
“No sir! Not as yet. Our team ain’t been to bat!”

Richard M. “Pek” Gunn (1904-1995)
Poet Laureate of Tennessee (1971-1994)

That little poem impacted me even as a child.  First, because of its obvious humor but also because there was something about the boy’s response that just plucked at something deeper, something much more profound than first glance might reveal.  Much later in life I found the following quote by Richard Gunn about that very poem:

We smile at these lines, but this is the spirit that caused John Paul Jones to say, ‘I’ve just begun to fight.’ It sustained Washington at Valley Forge. It built all our schools and churches, and it is this never give up spirit of the American people that says, ‘I don’t care how much is against me, I can still win! Just let me at bat.

There’s something very much about faith in these lines, as well.  The Bible teaches us never to give up or grow discouraged in our Christian walk.  There may be times when it looks like all is lost, but our faith teaches us that God has already won the victory!  In John 16:33 Jesus encourages us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

While we live in this world, we work to make it better and we strive to minister to people in the way that Christ calls us to do.  But our ultimate hope is not in this world.  1 Corinthians 15 reminds us that if our hope in Christ was for this world alone we would be “of all people most to be pitied.”  But we know that even when the world has done all it can do, we who are in Christ have already won the victory over death, sin and the grave.  We are made alive in him!

The battle may seem hopeless at times and the evil powers seem to be winning the day.  But in the words of baseball legend Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”.  And be assured it ain’t over ‘til God has the last word.  “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” (Revelation 21: 6-7)

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