As a catcher in my youth one of my favorite baseball players is the great Yogi Berra. His accomplishments as a catcher for the Yankees, coach and manager encompass a great career. Berra is most famous for his Yogi-ism.
On the surface a Yogi-ism is a statement that often seems to stand in contradiction to itself. More often, a Yogi-ism is in reality a keen observation, understanding, or truth about the situations and events of Berra’s life and interaction with teammates, friends and the press.
If you take a Yogi-ism as just a statement, it sounds a bit paradoxical, in a humorous way. Yet, If you know the context of the statement it makes perfect sense.
For example: “It doesn’t matter if you’re ugly in this racket. All you have to do is hit the ball, and I never saw anyone hit with his face.” Well of course no one in the game of baseball hits with their face. On the surface a keen observation, yet coupled with the understanding that he had been branded with a rather cruel nickname by sports writers. It became his standard response to the nickname.
Berra once remarked, “You can observe a lot by watching.” While on the surface a statement of the obvious, yet, certainly a truth. Most people see what they want to see, rather than making detailed observations. Matter of fact I just watched a TED Talk on this very topic.
One last one. Maybe on the most famous Yogi-ism, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Certainly, but what we fail to remember is that it comes from a press conference where the Mets, managed by Berra, trailed the division leading Cubs by 9 plus games. Berra was telling the writers not to write off the Mets, who went on to win the division the last day of the regular season, making up the 9 plus games on the Cubs.
The real genius of a Yogi-ism is in knowing the story. As a believer we sometime remain silent in speaking the truth, because on the surface it sounds counter intuitive. For example – Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” (HCSB) A paradoxical statement on the surface, yet if we share the story of Christ and how we found life in Christ, it makes perfect sense.
Or in our world of always seeking more, we might find the same paradox in Luke 9:25, “What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?” (HCSB)
This summer, I hope you will take some time to think about how you can explain the paradox of a life lived through Christ to your friends and neighbors. Sure a few things are going to sound confusing on the surface, but I encourage you to join me in telling the whole story of our life in Christ. Then I think it will make sense to our family, friends and neighbors.
If you have never told your story of life in Christ, well it could be time that you step up to the plate….