Samson at Sherlock’s

During Josh Hamilton’s first week as a Ranger, he crushed a mammoth home run against the Seattle Mariners to win the game for us. At that point in time, I hoped that he would be what we so sorely needed: a clutch hitter who would lead us out of the Arlington desert.

Guess what? He did. Along with some amazing pitching, fielding and hitting by others. I didn’t know if I would ever see a Ranger World Series, and now I’ve seen two. In that roller coaster of a Game 6 against St. Louis, after Feliz had blown the save, Hamilton came to the plate, sports hernia and all, and blasted a drive into the right-center field seats. Later, he would tell us that God had spoken to him in the on-deck circle, saying that he would hit a home run.

Well, you know what happened next.

But this isn’t about the World Series. It’s about priorities. I’ve been so busy rooting for the Rangers that I forgot something about Josh Hamilton. It turns out that he’s not there just to bash home runs for fans like me. He’s not there to crash into outfield walls chasing down fly balls for us, and he’s not there to score from second on a bunt for us.

Those amazing feats are his art, but they’re not his purpose.

So what is his purpose? The same as yours and mine — to bring glory to the One who made us.
Granted, much of the glory with Josh Hamilton comes from those hustle plays, those epic sprints after balls into the gap, those doubles into the corner and those gargantuan blasts into the night sky.

But sometimes it has to come from somewhere else. Those spaces in his life off the diamond.

And for whatever reason, on Monday night, he headed out for some drinks. When Ian Kinsler showed up to get him home, he said he was done for the night — but then he went back out and drank some more. For those of us who find Christian stories of redemption to be nine parts treacle and no parts sincerity, this is just another story of hypocrisy. Here’s how he explained the other night:

But for those of us who are willing to allow a bit of complexity in our stories of faith, let’s look at the truth in what he had to say in his press conference: “I can not take a break from my recovery, my recovery is Christ, my recovery is an everyday process. When I take that one day off it leaves me open for a moment of weakness, it’s always been that way.” (courtesy of the Dallas Morning News) I don’t think that St. Paul or St. Peter said it any better than that.

It’s true, as many sportswriters say, that Josh left millions of guaranteed money on the table when he decided to drink. All of the doubts that so many people had about his long-term viability, thanks to the three years he lost to his drug addiction, will come to play in negotiations.

But this testimony that Josh gave, back in 2008, remains true:

And here’s the truth: Josh Hamilton may drink again at some point. We don’t know what it’s like to be tested for drugs three times a week — and to have to take those tests as long as we want to do what we love. We don’t know what stresses are going on in his life. What is also true, though, is that he did what we all must do when we fall — he immediately recognized what he did, and rather than fall into a spiral of narcotics, he came back to his circle of accountability and began a new clean streak.

So instead of starting a series of Josh Hamilton jokes, or calculating his lost millions, let’s hope that today, and tomorrow, and the tomorrows after that, Josh will continue to be the inspiring father, husband, and (God willing) ballplayer that he was made to be. That he will rise up from this in the ways that are so much more important than his ability to crush a baseball.

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