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All Present and Accounted For


Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
John 20:24

Leroy "Satchel" Paige was one of the greats in the world of baseball. History remembers him as the first black player to pitch in the World Series. He was also the first player from the old Negro League to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Folklore tells us that he won 2,100 games, 60 in one season, and 55 without giving up a hit. And that was before he was allowed into the majors as a 42 year-old "rookie" pitching for the Cleveland Indians. Everything about the man was memorable including his famous sayings. There was a Yogi Berra quality to this man's words. On one occasion he said, "Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." On another occasion he said, "Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you." One of his best sayings goes like this, "You win a few, you lose a few, some get rained out. But you got to dress for them all."

Upon reflection there is a lot of wisdom in that last statement as it relates to life not just baseball. Life is too short for long pauses or pity parties. No matter how we feel on a given day we have got to get up, dress up, and show up. Leroy "Satchel" Paige would remind us that part of a winning strategy in life involves being where we should be when we should be. Success in life, in large measure, involves just showing up on time with a good attitude. Let me illustrate this principle and paradigm.

In telling the Easter story, John makes note of the fact that Thomas, one of Jesus' disciples, failed to show up with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection (John 20:24). One suspects Thomas should have been there since the rest of the apostles were there but he wasn't, and we are not told why. Perhaps it was regret, disappointment, or fear. Whatever the reason he was absent when Christ was present. And as the text notes, not showing up came at a hefty price. Doubting Thomas missed out on a new sense of peace (John 20:19); he missed out on a new sense of power (John 20:22); and he missed out on a new sense of purpose (John 20:21, 23). The fact is that whatever Thomas was doing that night it wasn't worth it. Thomas was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it cost him a great deal.

Simply showing up in life is half the battle. There is no substitute for disciplining ourselves to be faithful and consistent in whatever lies at our hand (Eccles. 9:10). When we are where we are meant to be, doing what God has called us to do, we will find the provision and protection of God. Elijah found that to be true (1 Kings 17:2-4, 9, 10). The fact is that we often miss out on the blessing of God because as Bill Crowder notes, "we are not where God is working when He is working." We are in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. The story of Thomas would remind us that wherever we are meant to be we need to be there, and be all there, and while there, remember that God just might show up when we show up. Committing to an ordinary obligation at home, work, or church may just lead to an extraordinary opportunity.