Your Story Isn’t Finished

I recently became aware of the remarkable story of Ray Caldwell. Caldwell was a pitcher with tremendous potential whose career was derailed by alcoholism. It looked like his baseball story was over until the Cleveland Indians felt his still talented arm could help them with a late season pennant push. They were right.

On August 24, 1919, Caldwell was pitching a beauty of a game when he had just one more out to go for the win. Then, a violent rainstorm swept into the stadium and the unthinkable happened. Caldwell’s teammates and the crowd on hand looked on in horror as Caldwell was struck by lightning! For several moments, it appeared he might be dead. described what happened next:

Right around the time everybody on the field is ready to pronounce Caldwell dead, the 31-year-old pitcher starts groaning and crawls back to his knees, then his feet. Teammates rejoice, but still, everybody keeps their distance from the guy whose chest was just on fire. They offer to walk with him off the field as he heads to the hospital. But Caldwell is incredulous. “I have one more out to get,” he says…Ray Caldwell survived a lightning strike and just finished a complete-game win in the most important game of his life.

Twice in his baseball career it appeared the end of Caldwell’s story had been written, once by addiction, once by lightning. What’s more, 16 days later he would pitch a no-hitter against the New York Yankees.

Have you ever thought the end of your story had been written? Did you believe you made a mistake so great that there was no coming back? I did. When a sinful life caught up to me in 2016, I believed there was no coming back. I felt like I had been struck by lightning. Fortunately, I don’t write my story, God does. He already knows the ending of all our stories. He knew that just six years later I would be the pastor of a church. When I look back, that seems almost as amazing as surviving a lightning strike on the pitcher’s mound.

God reminds us through the prophet Ezekiel that he can add a twist ending to our story anytime he wants:

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV)

If you believe your story has ended in failure, trust that God can change your heart and thereby change your life. If you’ve given up on someone else, believing they will never change, I encourage you to pray Ezekiel 36:26-27 over them; over and over and over. He’s changed many life stories by changing hearts.

And if others try to convince you your mistake is just too big to overcome, remember the words of the Apostle Paul:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)

Our stories are written with the pen of God’s grace. Whatever mistake you made, no matter how hopeless you feel, your story isn’t finished. Nor is the story of the person you’ve given up on finished. Keep praying, stand back, and let God dazzle you with one of His patented twist endings!

Pastor Jerry Bader

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