Though I was three feet shorter, 200 pounds lighter and noticeably less tan than Tree, I went to bed many nights with dreams of being just like him. I was going to work my way through school, stretch myself every day and defeat my DNA of average height to be just like him. That was...until the Spring came. Then, the Tree faded into the background as I geared up to be Dale Murphy. Yep, that was it. Dale Murphy. All-star center fielder for the completely inept Atlanta Braves of the mid-70's. No matter what happened, I was going to do everything I could to be the next amazing center fielder for the home team...till the Fall...and football.
You get the point. Like most kids, I spent most of my life dreaming about who I could emulate and who I most wanted to replace as the next great __________. It didn't make any difference that the chances were slim (or that I was genetically challenged to be as tall or fast or strong as most of them). I simply wanted to be like them.
So, I spent countless hours running and throwing and shooting and catching. I bought jerseys and hats. I put their trading cards on my mirror in my room and had their names imprinted on my shirts. It was going to happen...no matter what the obstacle.
And here I sit. No shot-blocking. No home runs. No game changing, break away runs. Just me...exactly where God wants me. Well...almost.
You see, there is one more imitation to pull off. No, I'm not genetically inclined to do this one either. While I spend hours practicing and going over the game book, I'm very slow in learning what this one looks like. I'm convinced this is the one that matters more than all the rest though. This is the journey that will make all the others pale in comparison. God's got just one more. It's found right there in Ephesians 5:1:
Be imitators of God....
Hello? Imitators of God? The God? The One who spoke creation into being? The One who defeated giants, parted waters and caused large fish to swallow prophets? He wants me to imitate Him? Absolutely, but not like you think. Paul goes on to explain that our lives should be defined by love, just as God is love. It may not be as glamorous as world championships or Super Bowl rings but love is monumental in the difference it can make in people. For the young mom who is all alone with no support, the troubled teen looking for a role model or the couple who thinks that all hope is gone for their marriage, "lovers" may be just the heroes they have been waiting on. God is love. No doubt about it. Now He asks that you and I follow suit by loving the world around us and bringing Him glory in the process.