Recently, I started to study a book with a group of men from my church. The book is J.I. Packer's Knowing God. This past week's reading drudged-up for me a childhood memory that helped me connect what God was trying to teach me to something I had personally experienced. The connection is kind-of a stretch, but it was helpful to me. I hope it is helpful to you too. Here is my story:
Growing-up I was a huge Cincinnati Reds fan. I spent my formidable years going to an inordinate number of games in Cincy with my dad. When I couldn't get to a game or when the Reds were on the road, I listened intently to Marty and Joe call the games, as I lay in my bed listening to my transistor radio. No night was complete until I heard Joe say, "This is the old left-hander, rounding third and heading for home." Those years were good: World Series champs in '75 and '76, and NLCS in '78. It was the Big Red Machine, and I was completely obsessed with my hometown (well, pretty close) heroes. I can run-off the line-up right now, as if I had just gotten done watching a game. Bench behind the plate, Perez or Driessen at 1B, Joe Morgan at 2B, Davie Concepcion at SS, Pete Rose at 3B, George Foster in LF, Ceasar Geronimo in CF, and Ken Griffey in RF.
I loved them all, but I especially admired the Reds' scrappy third-baseman, Pete (Charlie Hustle) Rose. I loved how he ran-out everything... even walks. He ran into walls, stretched singles to doubles, and boy-o-boy could that guy hit. I watched Pete; I read books about Pete; I made a mural of Pete for my bedroom; and I even named my dog Petie in honor of my baseball hero. I learned everything I could learn about him. I was a Pete Rose fanatic.
During the summer of 1978, I finally got the opportunity to meet Pete Rose, face-to-face. Pete had just joined the 3000 hit club, and I was so excited to tell him how much I really admired him. After a July double-header, I waited for him outside the clubhouse, by the player parking lot in Riverfront Stadium. I just knew that my hero would talk to me. Maybe he would ask me about my baseball team? Maybe he would put his arm around me and give me some secret hitting advice? I didn't know for sure what he would say, but I knew all about him and I was sure this encounter wouldn't disappoint. When he came out of the locker room, I was in awe. There was my mop-topped hero right in front of me. I held out my pen and a game program, hoping for a personalized message from Pete. Seemingly annoyed, he took my pen (man, was I excited!), signed another kid's program, put my pen in his shirt pocket, and then he got into his Corvette. What? He didn't ask me how I was. He didn't talk to me at all. This was a huge shock to a naive 8-year-old who worshipped this sports hero. I thought I knew all about Pete, but it turned-out that I didn't know him at all. He ended up acting kind-of like a jerk, and he took my pen!
I knew a lot about Pete Rose. In fact, I would venture to say that I spent more time than almost any kid in the tri-state area studying his stats, his approach to the game, and his play on the field. BUT...knowing about him wasn't enough. That summer day in the Riverfront Stadium parking lot opened my eyes to the fact that I DIDN'T KNOW HIM AT ALL. I didn't have a personal relationship with Pete anymore than I had one with the President of the Pope. I knew all about him, but I didn't know of him.
I started to wonder if I have taken the same approach to God that I took to Pete Rose when I was 8. Am I naive enough to think that knowing about God is the same as knowing Him personally? Am I fooling myself here? Over the past 2 years, I have dedicated my life to learning more about God. I have read probably 30 books about Him. The question is, DO I REALLY KNOW HIM? I am humbled and taken-aback by this question. The honest answer is NO. If I am telling the truth, I would say that my relationship to Him needs to grow in a huge way. I am excited about applying what Packer teaches in his book. I want to KNOW GOD, not just know about Him. I am thrilled to get to know God as a faithful friend. I know he won't disappoint like old Pete did.
About the Chief Outkicker
- Steven W. Skolik
- Dayton, Ohio, United States
- I've accused my friends, Jeff and Jonathan, of reaping more out of life's harvest than they deserve. I joke about this with them, but in reality, I am actually the one who has been blessed way beyond what I deserve. I have a wonderful wife who loves the Lord and who loves me. I have three great kids. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is my great provider. I have done nothing to deserve the good and wonderful gifts I have been given in this life. I am the one who is "outkicking my coverage" daily. Life is good. I am a teacher (18 years and counting), a husband, and a proud father. Most of all, I am a Christ follower. My desire is to follow Him so closely I am covered in the dirt of his sandals. Follow along as I work on allowing the Spirit of God to help me navigate this blessed life He has given to me.