Monday, December 21, 2015

Bill Buckner, Steve Harvey, and St. Thomas

This morning, I heard Dan Le Batard compare Steve Harvey with Bill Buckner. Last night, at the Miss Universe pageant, the comedian, author, and television host let the equivalent of a routine ground ball slip between his legs and called out Miss Columbia as the winner of the Miss Universe crown. Seconds later, he interrupted the celebration to say, "I have to apologize." It turns out that he announced the wrong winner. To his credit, Harvey accepted responsibility for the mistake...before dropping the mic and running off stage. I didn't watch the Miss Universe pageant, but I did watch an agonizing replay of that moment, which you can see here.

What really grabbed my attention wasn't Steve Harvey's mistake but Dan LeBatard's comparison. "Does this make Steve Harvey a Bill Buckner?" he asked. In other words, will Steve Harvey forever be remembered for this gaff, or will his other accomplishments--and by that I mean hosting Family Feud and Live at the Apollo, writing countless books, creating a clothing line, and doing a host of other things I can't even imagine--eventually outweigh this terrible moment? I'm not sure. I tend to think so--mainly because most of Harvey's fans don't care as much about Miss Universe as Buckner's fans care about baseball. Regardless, wherever Steve Harvey is this morning, I am praying for him. And for Miss Columbia and her parents, too.

The bible is full of Bill Buckners--people who did remarkable things (like bat a career .289 while amassing over 2700 hits) but are only remembered for a momentous failure. Chief among them, perhaps, is St. Thomas. John tries his best to tell us that Thomas was known as "The Twin," but all of us know Thomas by his other eponym--Doubting Thomas. You, too, can be a "Doubting Thomas." That's how we refer to people who refuse to believe something that everyone else is willing to accept on faith. In no small way, therefore, Thomas the Apostle, whom we remember today, lives on because of his shortcoming rather than his accomplishments.

But a doubter wouldn't be worth celebrating if doubting was all he'd ever done. Thomas' story is one of transformation. He isn't just one who doubted. He's one whose encounter with the risen Lord triumphed over those doubts and replaced them with abiding, unwavering faith. In John 20:24-29, we read of that encounter, in which Jesus asked Thomas to place his finger in the marks of the nails and his hand in Jesus' spear-torn side. But the point of that passage isn't to shame Thomas for all eternity; it's to encourage you and me to have faith: "Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.'"

We don't get to see. Just like Thomas, we have doubts. The story of Jesus' resurrection is unbelievable. Why would anyone think that a dead body can rise from the grave on the third day? Why? Because God made it possible. And that's Thomas' story. He allows us to have our doubts because the gospel isn't threatened by them. Thomas is the one who invites us to bring our doubts to Jesus so that Jesus can defeat them.

Do not be afraid. Do not hide. Do not let your secret doubts consume you. Learn from Thomas. Bring your skepticism to Jesus, and ask the risen Lord to fill you with faith.

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