The fastest documented fastball in baseball history is a 105.1 mph blazer hurled by Aroldis Chapman, currently of the New York Yankees. Chapman has the number tattooed on the inside of his left wrist. But I learned recently that nearly six decades ago, there was a pitcher whose fastball is estimated to have been 110 to 115 mph (no radar guns back then to verify). So, why have most people never heard of Steve Dalkowski, who died on April 19 at age 80? Because he is considered the greatest “what if” story in the history of baseball.
His heater was nearly lethal. According to the Washington Post, in one game Dalkowski’s fastball hit the umpire in the face mask, breaking it into three pieces. The umpire was knocked unconscious. He tore off part of a batter’s ear with an errant pitch in another game. And that’s why you’ve never heard of Dalkowski. An arm that had 100% lightning and zero control. Dalkowski piled up strikeouts and walks by the truckload. Despite all that speed, his inability to control it kept him from ever throwing a single pitch in the major leagues. He had a God-given gift far more successful pitchers can only dream about but his inability to harness it largely diminished its effectiveness. It made me wonder how many Christ-followers suffer from a similar problem when it comes to spiritual gifts.
The Apostle Paul lists spiritual gifts several times in his letters. Among them: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, teaching, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues. Paul points out that each person is gifted differently and that their gifts are not for them, but for the good of the Church body. He makes this point by comparing members of the Church to parts of the human body. Paul’s metaphor underscores the importance of properly applying our gifts to be used to advance God’s Kingdom in the way He has planned for us:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:21-26
First, we need to learn what our top spiritual gifts are. Most people have more than one but tend to have a primary gift. There are many tests to determine what yours are. Once you do that, it’s vital that you find a role that maximizes the benefit of your gift or gifts to the church. Dalkowski was urged by at least one manager to take a little heat off his fastball so he could better control it. Apparently, he didn’t heed that advice or the suggestion that he be more selective with his use of the fastball. Our spiritual gifts aren’t for us; they are for others so we can serve God’s purpose for us in the Church body.
If you’ve never taken a class where you discover your spiritual gifts, ask your church if they offer one, or research other sources that are out there. Odds are that as COVID-19 restrictions are eased, there will be more need than ever for whatever your spiritual gift is. Don’t be an unfulfilled promise to God. Pray for guidance on how and where to apply your spiritual fastball so you chalk up win after win for God’s Kingdom!
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere, WI.