Barry Bonds is a home-run-hitting machine! The man who hit 73 homers last
year to break the record set by Mark McGwire in 1998 has started the 2002
season in phenomenal style. In the first game of the new season, he led
the San Francisco Giants to a 9-2 victory over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers
by driving in five runs. And two of those five runs were homers. It made
him the 75th player since 1900 to homer twice on Opening Day of a new
So what did he do in the second game? He hit two more home runs. The
37-year-old Bonds joined Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews as the only players
in history to open a season with a pair of homers. Yet Bonds knows there
is something even more important than getting a season off to a great start.
"It's not how you start; it's how you finish," he said after game one. "We
want to be in the race until it's over. It's early, one game doesn't make
What Bonds said about his baseball season could just as well be said about
life in general -- and certainly about spiritual life in particular.
Think of the sad history of Judas Iscariot. He was one of those privileged
people who saw Jesus in the flesh, heard him teach, and saw the signs he did
among mankind. He decided to follow the Son of God and was numbered among
the earliest disciples. He was even chosen to be one of The Twelve. He went
out two by two with them, healed sick people, and announced the coming of
the kingdom of God. But nobody remembers him for any of those things. Judas
is remembered for how his relationship with Jesus ended --
as the traitor-betrayer.
How anyone's life, career, or relationship with God ends is more critical
than its beginning. Remember Jesus' Parable of the Soils? The shallow ground
received seed that sprouted and grew quickly, only to wilt and die in the
heat of the day. No less than the Apostle Paul used the imagery of athletic
competition to say this about himself: "I don't know about you, but I'm
running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy
living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get
caught napping, telling everyone else about it and then missing out myself"
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27, The Message).
If you stumbled out of the blocks, don't worry! It's how you finish the race
that counts. If you had all the breaks and got off to a great start, don't be
arrogant! In sports, career, family, and spiritual life, it's not how you
start. It's how you finish.