Since 1986, Bill Buckner’s name has been linked to, perhaps, the most disappointing moment in the storied history of the Boston Red Sox. Facing a formidable New York Mets squad, the Red Sox were up 3 games to 2 in the 1986 World Series. With the score tied 5-5 in extra innings of game 6, Boston was on the brink of a championship. New York third baseman, Ray Knight, stood at second base as Mookie Wilson strolled to the plate. Wilson worked the count full. Sox hurler Bob Stanley delivered the pay-off pitch and Wilson hit a slow roller up the first base line. All first baseman Bill Buckner had to do was scoop up the ball, step on first, and the inning would be over. It was a routine play that Buckner had made thousands of times in his career. This time, however, he allowed the ball to roll under his glove and between his legs. Ray Knight, who was running on the pitch, was able to round third and score. The Mets won the game and would go on to win the World Series in game 7. Despite ineffective pitching and other shortcomings that led to the Red Sox demise, Buckner’s error epitomized what Boston fans referred to as “The Curse of the Bambino.” Bill Buckner became the scapegoat for a frustrated fan base. What many people don’t realize, or fail to emphasize, is that Buckner had a solid Major League career. He was an All-Star. He was the National League batting champion in 1980. He accumulated over 2,700 hits in a career that spanned 20 years. Despite these highly respectable accomplishments, Buckner will always be remembered for one error in one game of the World Series.
God’s word presents us with a man who has had to endure a similar legacy. Thomas, also known as Didymus, was one of the 12 apostles. However, that is not what he’s most noted for. Thomas is often associated with doubt. Through the years he has gained the moniker “Doubting Thomas.” Look up “Doubting Thomas” in any standard dictionary and you will find a definition that states something along these lines: “a person who refuses to believe without proof; a skeptic; a person who insists on proof before he will believe anything.” Thomas is most known for one moment in his life. But, like Bill Buckner, there is much more to this man.
In Chapter 11 of John’s gospel Jesus faces increasing hostility from the religious leaders. As our Lord was on His way to raise His dead friend Lazarus, there was great concern that His life may be in danger. Jesus decides to go anyway, and it was Thomas who boldly proclaims, “Let us also go, so that we may die with him (Jn. 11:16).” Thomas’ fierce loyalty in that moment is often overlooked. It should also be noted that Thomas wasn’t the only one who doubted. Although he often gets singled out, none of the apostles truly believed until they had seen the risen Christ. And let us not dismiss the fact that once Thomas did have the opportunity to see the resurrected Jesus he confessed with complete conviction, “My Lord and my God (Jn. 20:28)!”
You may be known for a lackluster moment in your life. You may go down in history for pulling a “Bill Buckner,” but one error doesn’t cost the Christian victory. One less-than-stellar moment doesn’t have to define you. Failure is not final. It’s not doubt that should define Thomas. It’s the moment he confessed “My Lord and my God;” that is really his defining moment. The same is true for the Christian. We are defined by faith. Our identity is found in Jesus Christ, not in the moments we’d rather forget.
Don’t let failure define you. You may be flawed, but you are priceless. The cross leaves no doubt as to the fact that God loves you in spite of your failures. God has a place for you! And it’s not wallowing in the consequences of your mistakes. It’s not drowning in your self-inflicted tears. It’s not at the bottom of your own personal ground zero. God’s place for you is a place of renewal and transformation, a place of second chances and new beginnings, a place of forgiveness. Your story is still being written. This is not “The End.” It’s “To be continued.”