When The Snapshot Picture Lies
I’ve heard that there are three truths about who we are. There is the person that we think we are, the person other people think we are, and the person we really are. My brother in law Dick passed away last week. Mike, his son, was asked to say some words about his dad as we celebrated his life and he brought up a rather confusing issue. You see Dick had many passions in life. He loved to race (he had a dragster and ran in events throughout the country), he loved drama (and acted in plays and skits in his church and community), he loved working with young people, he loved to cook, fish, and compete in dog shows. He also was a salesman and he loved selling. Besides all of that he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, family member, and friend to many. As Mike was describing all of these things he questioned aloud “now how does all of that go together?” For instance racing and dog shows were very competitive where fishing and cooking were more relaxing. With drama, racing, and family he was acting in a team setting, while fishing and cooking he could do individually if he wanted to. It was a wide variety of interests that Dick had that didn’t seem to have a common denominator.
Fred Snodgrass was the centerfielder on the old New York Giants baseball team in 1912. It was a spectacular year for the Giants as they made it to the World Series. Their opponents were the Boston Red Sox and the series went eight games. Now days eight games in the best of seven series would not happen, however that year game two was called a tie after ten innings because of darkness. With each team winning three games (and one tie) game eight was the decider. In the bottom of the tenth inning the Giants had a 4-3 lead. The first batter Clyde Engle of the Red Sox hit a high fly between Snodgrass and the left fielder. Fred called off the other fielder, settled under the towering fly and promptly dropped the ball. Engle reached second base on the play. Later another Boston player was walked and they both ended up scoring. The Red Sox won the World Series and Snodgrass was blamed by the press. Fred Snodgrass lived 62 more years and had much business success outside of baseball. He also had a happy family life. When he passed away in 1974 the New York Times headline was “Fred Snodgrass 86 Dead, Missed Fly Ball in 1912 World Series.”
Bill Wambsganss had the opposite experience in the 1920 World Series. Wambsganss played second base for the Cleveland Indians and they were in the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers had runners on first and second and the next batter hit a line drive that looked like a sure hit. Wambsganss raced over and leaped high in the air. He miraculously speared the ball. Pivoting toward second base he easily tagged the base with his foot. He was ready to throw the ball to first base when he noticed the runner from first was confused and standing near second base. Wambsganss trotted over and tagged him out for an unassisted triple play! The fans didn’t realize what happened until Wambsganss was running off of the field with his teammates. All of the sudden a loud roar engulfed the stadium and hats flew on the field! It was the only unassisted triple play in World Series history and Wambsganss was known for that play for the rest of his life! When he passed away at 91 the headline was “Bill Wambsganss Dies, Made Unassisted Triple Play In 1920 World Series.”
Since we cannot know everyone we sometimes get a snapshot version of them. It is a picture in our minds of what they are all about. It seems our brains naturally like to categorize people especially if we don’t know them well. The truth is that what we put in our mind sometimes is just a snapshot of a time (good or bad) that we define the person as being. The fact of the matter is that nobody can be defined by one memory. Our lives have so many different layers and when we actually know the real person we are able to see those layers. We might have memories and even snapshots of that person, but it isn’t any of these snapshots that define them.
Dick was a Christian and Christ was the most important part of his life. There were many people that knew him as a racer. Still others knew him from directing the church youth group, and others admired his acting abilities! He had many different layers as we all do, but the one common denominator that Mike was looking for was Christ. You see it is OK to be passionate about many things in life. Getting involved in different things gives us opportunities to witness the love of Christ to more people! By taking his faith with him Dick was able to maximize his opportunities to be a witness! Life always has it’s ups and downs. The sum of a life is somewhere between the muffed fly ball and the unassisted triple play. God does not look at our lives from a snapshot view. His is a movie camera that picks up all of our good times and bad as he wants to consistently navigate us through all of our situations! Dick had years ago given up the driver’s seat and allowed Jesus to take the wheel of his life. Many have a picture in their mind of Dick in his racing gear driving that powerful dragster toward the finish line. Although it is a beautiful snapshot it fails to tell the whole story! The movie shows that Dick won his race while sitting in the passenger seat!