Working on a Dream




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Embrace that Saved a Hero.

As you all know, Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues. Since Robinson was single handily breaking baseball’s color barrier, it takes no stretch of the imagination to consider the hostile crowds in every stadium his team traveled to. On one fateful day, playing in his home stadium of Ebbets Field, he committed an error. Immediately the fans began to jeer and yell at him.

Robinson stood at second base with his head low and humiliated while the nasty crowd booed him.

Then, without saying a word, shortstop Pee Wee Reese went over and stood beside Jackie. He put his arm around him and looked up at the crowd. Instantaneously the fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

Pee Wee Reese embracing a young Jackie Robinson
  I want you to think about Pee Wee Reese for a moment. Think of the courage it took for him to identify with Robinson.  On that day, Reese did more than just help his team pull together, he was a true encourager, he was one who stood up and said “I believe in this man!” 
Let me ask you a question: Where would you be without the Pee Wee Reese's in your life?  These are the men and women that came along side of you and walked beside you when you were down. When everyone else was giving you the proverbial "thumbs-down" and giving up on you, there was your Reese with his arms around your shoulder.

Recently, I preached a sermon from the book of Acts highlighting a man named Barnabas.  Barnabas' real name was Joseph -however you will never hear anyone refer to him by that if you lived in his day. Barnabas literally means, "Son of Encouragement(Acts 4:36-37) and since he embodied his nickname so well, everyone called him Barnabas, instead of his birth name.  
I am betting that you have some friends with nicknames that have no rhyme or reason other then they sounded cool (shoemaker for instance) and I have other friends that have shortened versions of their name (Scott becomes Scooter) and then we have friends where their nicknames actually embody the person's personality (Picy...don't ask).
This was the case with Barnabas.  His life was one consumed with encouraging the broken hearted, uplifting the downtrodden, developing others and giving generously.  If you were to look up encouragement in the dictionary, there you will find a portrait of Barnabas.  No doubt this man was special. No doubt this man had to get his nickname from many years of helping others. Norman Vincent Peale once said, "Empty pockets never held anyone back.  Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that." I am betting that this was the type of man Pee Wee Reese was. A person that could see past the exterior of a person and see their soul.  In a real way, Reese was a Barnabas for Jackie Robinson.  And that is what made Pee Wee Reese's action so powerful and historic.
Final Thoughts:
Who are you being a Barnabas to in your life?
Do you know of anyone that you could walk over to and stretch out your arms in order to lift their spirits like Pee Wee Reese did?
Life is full of hurting people.
Go. Be a Barnabas for someone today.


Ann Mullen said...

Anthony, that was so beautiful. I had and have lots of Barnabus people in my life, but I don't know who I have uplifted. And maybe that is a good thing because then I am not tempted to become prideful.

M_Mercutio said...

Thanks yet again, Anthony. I've never heard of the two baseball players (and I hardly know a thing about baseball. But I know a thing or two about politics and sport. Racialism and sport.) I am impressed.

Anthony Kladitis said...

Thanks! This story really made an impact on me too! I love things like this as it inspires me to be a better person!

Glad you enjoyed the article.