Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill
I'm a little heartbroken this week. Those who know me know how much I love the Florida Gators; I cheer for the Orange and Blue in every sport. People naturally assume I went to school there, but I didn't (Except in my dreams. And on the PlayStation, where I created myself as a free safety and point guard). I've loved the Gators from my earliest memories, attending football games in The Swamp and watching basketball and volleyball in the O Dome. I even followed the chess team through their rebuilding seasons.
That's why I'm a little heartbroken today. The top ranked softball team went back to the Women's College World Series last week, seeking their 3rd National Championship in four years, but they came up short, including a 17-inning marathon game that cost me a night's sleep. It isn't just that they lost, but that they deserved to win. The Gators were ranked #1 all year, and boasted the top pitching staff in the NCAA. Senior lefty Delanie Gourley, already a two-time champ, was the country's 3rd best pitcher with an earned run average of just .8. That seems high compared to Sophomore Kelly Barnhill, the national Player of the Year, who recently had her ERA down to .1 (that's not a typo). Fortunately this loss was bookended by national championships in women’s tennis and men’s track and field.
Florida led the country with the lowest ERA, the most shutouts, the most run-rule wins, and the best fielding defense. They were clearly the best. But sometimes being the best isn't good enough.
I believe many people here in the Bible Belt tend to evaluate their lives by comparing themselves to other people, and feeling confident that they are good enough, end up missing salvation. They make the mistake of believing that since they are good people, even the best people, they don't need God. This warped perspective renders the Cross unnecessary, making us savable apart from Jesus. If our good works could save us, why would Jesus have gone to Calvary? Why would God be pleased to see Jesus die?
God was pleased because Jesus' death made our forgiveness possible—forgiveness we all need because we are dying in our sins. Even the best of us.
Don't misunderstand me: we should strive to be our best, but not in order to be saved, but because we have been saved. Stop comparing yourself to other people; stop trying to be good enough on your own, and trust in the only One who is good enough. Call on Jesus, trust in what He has done, and not what you can do. He truly is the best.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...