Dave Dravecky pitched for the San Francisco Giants in the 1980s. In 1988—at the peak of his career—doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in Dravecky’s pitching arm. He underwent surgery to remove it and spent months in rehabilitation. Dravecky returned to the major leagues in August of 1989 but in his second game at the mound, his humerus bone snapped mid-pitch to Montreal’s Tim Raines and the sound could be heard throughout the stadium.
Despite surgical repair, cancer ultimately ended the pitcher’s career and Dravecky’s arm and shoulder were amputated in 1991. Rather than harbor bitterness and resentment for his misfortune, however, Dravecky was a positive, grateful man who never lost faith in God.
Throughout his trials, letters poured in from all over the country. Some were from fans offering encouragement. Others were soul-searchers seeking advice on how Dravecky kept his faith. One day, this letter arrived:
“Dear Mr. Dravecky, If there is a God who cares so much about you, why did he allow you to have the surgery in the first place? I have lived 41 years in this old world and have yet to see any piece of genuine evidence that there is anything real about any of those religious beliefs you talk about. God certainly does not love me and has never done a single thing to express that love for me. I have had to fight for everything I ever got in life. Nobody cares about what happens to me and I don’t care about anybody else either. Can’t you see the truth that religion is nothing more than a crutch used by a lot of weaklings who can’t face reality and that the church is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites who care nothing for each other and whose faith extends not to their actions or daily lives but is only just a bunch of empty phrases spouted off to impress others?”
Dravecky replied: “I am convinced that there is a God. That no matter what happens to me, there is a purpose for it and behind that purpose stands a loving, caring God.”
What would you have said to the author?
We are two Sundays into my latest sermon series. This week, we will tackle the objection that there are too many hypocrites in the church! Sadly, many people share the same attitude about God and religious things as the sullen soul that wrote that letter to Dave Dravecky. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Jesus has much to say about hypocrisy, and it’s something we all need to hear.
I also am excited to remind you about a very important Sunday just around the corner. On May 6 during the 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. Traditions worship, we will welcome our Bishop, the Rev. Dr. Debra Wallace-Padgett, who will be preaching and leading us in the consecration of our new sanctuary! Please mark your calendar for this pivotal and sacred moment in the life of our congregation!
Last but not least, this past Sunday I announced my Summer Institute of Religious Studies, titled “Faith on the Fringe?” If you have ever wondered about or encountered religious communities that stand outside mainstream Christianity (such as Mormons, Scientologists, Moonies or Seventh-Day Adventists), the eight-session series this summer, beginning on Wednesday, July 11 at 6:30 p.m., will prove helpful to you. There’s no charge for this session; we provide all the material. Register for the seminar here.
I am continually overwhelmed by your love and support, and only have the most positive of hopes as we move into the future together!
See you Sunday!