Lou Gehrig, the great New York Yankees first baseman, gave a short but powerful speech as he bid farewell to his fans on July 4, 1939. The speech was necessary due to his diagnosis of ALS (which has come to be called Lou Gehrig disease). This gruesome neurological disease is always fatal and over a period of time renders even the strongest man or woman less able to care for himself than a new born baby.
Of all the players in baseball history, none possessed as much talent and humility as Lou Gehrig. His accomplishments on the field made him an authentic American hero, and his tragic early death made him a legend. Few would argue that no man less deserved to be struck down with ALS than Lou Gehrig. That is why when his diagnosis and subsequent retirement from baseball hit this country so hard. Lou Gehrig played in 2130 straight games which was the most ever until Cal Ripken Jr. broke the record in 1995.
Lou Gehrig was a spectacular baseball player whose talents rose to the top as Babe Ruth's declined. These two baseball legends enabled the New York Yankees to become a dynasty in the 1930's. But by the 1938 season, everyone knew something was wrong with Gehrig. His power dropped off as well as his average. By the start of the 1939 season it was obvious that he could no longer play the game he loved. Two years after this speech, Lou Gehrig died from complications of ALS. His farewell speech on July 4, 1939 provides an important principle to all of us facing physical, mental, financial or spiritual battles.
Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
"Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
"When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.
"So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for."
- Lou Gehrig
Despite all the physical problems I have encountered the past two years (or should I say TWENTY years), I refuse to consider myself a victim but rather a survivor. I refuse to give into the temptation to mope around feeling sorry for myself. I refuse to just lie down and quit because I don't feel good. In many ways I feel like the luckiest man on earth because God has blessed me with the most wonderful wife on earth, two beautiful dogs (and a cat), a mother "in-law who genuinely considers me her son, a spiritual family that encourages and prays for me here at CB and a handful of friends who are infinitely closer to me than my own brother or sister.
No matter what the future holds, I am persuaded that absolutely nothing can separate me from the love God in Christ Jesus my Lord. No matter how hard the times may get, I am full persuaded that in Christ; I can do all things and my God will supply all my needs in Christ Jesus. I have absolutely nothing to complain about and nothing to fear. I am indeed the luckiest man on earth for I have been given every spiritual blessing by God in Christ Jesus. I am blessed, I am loved and I am forever sealed with promise of God's inheritance in Christ Jesus.
I pray we all step forward and with great humility and boldness, let everyone know we the luckiest men and women on earth. Only in our case, we know it is not luck but rather the high calling of God in Christ Jesus which as saved us and given us so much to live for. Thank you for allowing me to share this message on this glorious day.
One of my great-aunts died from that same terrible disease in 1984. The last time I saw her was a few months before she passed away. I was in Iowa visiting family and that Sunday morning my husband and I went to the church where she and some other family members attended. I will never forget that day. She was teaching the adult Sunday School class. She had to be brought up to the front of the room. She asked my husband to hold her Bible for her and turn the pages as she was no longer able to use her hands. Do you know what the lesson was about? The joy of the Lord.
If I close my eyes, I can see the radiance of her face and the joy in her eyes as this woman looked beyond her circumstances and looked to Christ. I have never forgotten that image and you, my friend, have radiated that same joy.
In life there are many the number of bumps in road of our journeys!
And we can take from them things what we desire.To some they can find the good in all things, and to others they will find the negitive things. It depends upon your view of things, the eyes are the light of the body. If the eyes are dim the heart/thoughts are dim also.
Be blessed forever
Nothing to add but an "Amen!" and my compliments on an excellent, most timely blog.
Our lives are hidden safely in Christ Jesus - we have nothing to fear.
God bless you and your family Kirk