The first Major League Baseball player to collect a pinch hit was 22 year old Jack Doyle of the Cleveland Spiders on June 7, 1892, as they played the Brooklyn Grooms. He came off the bench for pitcher George Davies. In spite of his hit, Cleveland lost 2-1. Doyle had a 17 year career with ten teams. His best years were 1894 with the New York Giants (.367) and 1897 with the Baltimore Orioles (.354). He finished with a batting average of .299 in 1564 games with 516 stolen bases.
There have been many times in my life when I would have loved to given way to a pinch hitter--some rugged health procedures, a few rough times economically, a speaking engagement or two that still haunt me because I did not feel comfortable with my delivery. But we all know that won't work. Life happens and the things we learn as we endure it are what make or break us as people, especially people of God.
But it seems to me that some of us just expect a pinch hitter to step in here or there. The preacher is often our batter of choice. "It's the preacher's job to visit," we say, which is nowhere found in the scripture, just in our minds as we watch our denominational friends' "pastor system" and try to copy it and at the same time claim to know the true Biblical definition of a pastor. Instead, the New Testament squarely lays the visiting obligation on every disciple as he ministers to those in need. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means visiting orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you (Jas 1:27).
Others seem to think that it is the church's job to educate their children in the scriptures. On two 45 minute sessions a week? Assuming they bother to take their children to both, and assuming they help them get their Bible lessons and make sure they take their workbooks to class. It has been my experience that the ones who want the church to do the educating are the same ones who won't do this other minimal requirement as godly parents. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut 6:5-9). Fathers [bring up] your children…in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).
I am sure you can think of other ways we depend upon a pinch hitter rather than doing what God requires of us individually. But how about this one? Another word for a pinch hitter might be "scapegoat." Any time we refuse to take responsibility for our actions, blaming it on someone who "offended" us, or our culture, or the way we were raised, or anything else we can come up with, we think that that person or thing or system will now be held accountable by God (or society or the law of the land) and we are in the clear. Simply by saying, "It's not my fault," we have admitted that we made a bad choice, and the one God will hold accountable is the one who made that original choice, no matter how long ago it was nor how many other events happened before or afterward. If I have gotten myself into trouble, I am at fault. Period. That's the way God counts it.
There are no pinch hitters on God's team.
I am the LORD. I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord GOD (Ezek 24:14).
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury (Rom 2:6-8).