Succeeding at the Wrong Things

My favorite comic strip was Calvin and Hobbs. One time Waterston, the strip’s creator, had Calvin trying to play baseball. Of course, Calvin is no good at it. Coach Lockjaw sends him to “Deep Left” field. Calvin is waist-deep in grass wondering what base to throw it to if a ball ever comes and whether he would be able to throw it that far anyway.

“Hey, what’s everyone doing? Are people switching teams, or what? The guys at bat are now out HERE! …Well, I’m sure someone would tell me if I was supposed to be doing anything different.”

Calvin starts to daydream about being Spaceman Spiff marooned on a deserted planet when he’s interrupted by someone yelling, “high fly to left field! Whose out there!?”

Calvin is still lost in his imagination, “Our hero pauses. There’s some commotion on the horizon. Aliens! Spiff grabs his blaster.”

People are screaming, “Where’s the left fielder? Somebody catch it!”

Calvin suddenly comes back to reality, “Left field? Hey, that’s me! Wow a high fly right to me I got it I got it.”

Miraculously, he makes the catch. Calvin smugly walks it in, “I’m just a natural athlete I guess.”

The kids look confused. “Hey, who’s he? Isn’t he on the other team?”

Next panel switches to his teammates. “Hey, look who made the out! It’s Calvin!”

“It was nothing, guys. When you’re in top physical condition like me, you can. . .”

“You moron! What were you doing in the outfield? It’s a new inning! We’re up to BAT!”


“You caught the ball for the wrong team! You got our own guy out! What a dweeb! What an idiot!”

Calvin tries to recover, “Oops I dropped the catch. It doesn’t count now, right?”

“Get him off our team Mr. Lockjaw.” “Can I hit him with the bat? Please? Please?”

Can you identify? You might be one of those that watched the weeds grow in deep left field. You were terrible at little league. You wanted to be good. You prayed to be good, but you just weren’t good. Maybe this is a metaphor of your life. Your not exceptional at anything. In fact, you tend to score below average.

By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that the world places value on two things, appearance and performance. And if you don’t have either then its going to be a rough life. You can often feel worthless. Like Calvin in left field.

That can be a pretty sad situation. But I’ll tell you one even sadder. When you actually can play sports, or do calculus, or sing like an angel or look like a model and you learn to believe the applause. You attach your personal value on the opinions of others and start living for the approval of people. You’re successful, but that success is blinding you to the bigger things.

There’s only one thing worse than NOT succeeding and that is to succeed at the WRONG THING. When we succeed at that which draws our attention away from God we become blinded to him. Some for the rest of their lives. They will never see God because they cannot see past their own success.

God put a longing in you that is meant to make you long for him.

(Psalms 42:1) As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

You have a built in longing. But sometimes you try to fill it with the approval of people. As a result, you have this hunger in your heart that you can’t quite figure out.

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