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SPORTS: From the Yankees to eternity

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Amid all the talk about the baseball playoffs -– all the analysis, all the reporting, all the predictions -– real life happened on Wednesday.

Now baseball doesn’t seem to matter quite as much.

New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died in a plane crash, when the plane he was flying slammed into a Manhattan high-rise apartment building. He leaves behind a wife and a 6-year-old son.

And we’re all reminded of how fragile life is and how quickly it can be gone.

Over the days ahead, the Lidle family will grieve much, and rightfully so. His wife Melanie has lost a husband and friend. His 6-year-old son Christopher has lost a dad. They will never be the same, and will live with a gaping void that cannot be filled.

They desperately need our prayers.

But thankfully, the Lidles’ grieving will not be as those who have no hope -– because despite the fact that Lidle is gone from this life, he claimed allegiance to the one who gives life everlasting.

“Cory and I had spoken on several occasions,” said Rich Sparling, the Baseball Chapel leader for the Philadelphia Phillies, Lidle’s former team. “One of the issues that he had wondered about was eternal security. We spoke about how salvation was a gift from God in response to our faith, and because of God’s grace it doesn’t depend on us.”

Those are comforting words to anyone, especially during a tragedy like this. No one is immune from a sudden death at a young age. A life that is vibrant and full today can quickly be gone tomorrow.

Thankfully, there is hope for us in a life that is short and uncertain. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

Lidle believed that, Sparling said. A faithful participant in the Baseball Chapel ministry during his time in Philadelphia, Lidle believed that his deeds were not enough to get him into heaven. He believed that he was a sinner before a holy God, and one who couldn’t save himself.

And though no one can truly know a man’s heart, Sparling saw the fruit of faith in Lidle’s life. He saw evidence that Lidle, instead of trusting in himself for salvation, trusted in Jesus, the only one who is mighty to save.

Sure, Lidle probably had his faults, like everyone else. But that’s why he needed a Savior. It’s why I need one, too.

So while Lidle’s life on earth ended when his plane crashed into that apartment building, that same plane carried him instantly into the presence of God.

“I think that Cory genuinely knew Christ as his Savior,” Sparling said. “I know that Cory’s with the Lord. I don’t doubt that. I do know that he had faith in Christ. I know he had made a decision to be more serious in his walk with the Lord.”
Tim Ellsworth writes this column for BPSports, on the Web at www.bpsports.net.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth
    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.Read All by Tim Ellsworth ›