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Yogi Berra and the cloud of microbes surrounding you

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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New York Yankees hall of fame catcher Yogi Berra watches spring training baseball action against the Cincinnati Reds in Sarasota, Florida, March 6, 2008 (Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

“A microscopic cloud that’s really hard to see” surrounds you right now, according to microbial ecologist James Meadow. His research shows that you are carrying around millions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, on the inner and outer surfaces of your body.

Meadow explains: “We’re kind of spilling our microbial companions all over our houses and our offices and the people around us.” We do this by touch, by sharing objects, and simply by being present in a room. We leave an impression wherever we go, whatever we do.

For exhibit A, consider Yogi Berra.

The Yankees catcher died last week at the age of 90. Berra was named to the All-Star game fifteen consecutive times, and appeared in twenty-one World Series as a player, coach, and manager. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. But he is even more famous for so-called “Yogi-isms,” statements he made (or is purported to have made).

“You can observe a lot just by watching,” he once said in describing his strategy as a manager. He advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of slugger Frank Robinson, “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”

Giving directions to his home, he advised, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” (Both roads led to his house.) He once said of a popular restaurant, “Nobody goes there anymore—it’s too crowded.” Yogi Berra will be remembered for his homespun wisdom long after his athletic feats are forgotten.

Our deeds, whether good or bad, outlive us. (Tweet this) For instance, King Saul is still famous for his pathological, murderous personality and actions, thirty centuries after he died. But there’s more to the story.

After Philistine soldiers killed Saul, beheaded him, and fastened his body to the city wall, men from the town of Jabesh-gilead risked their lives to rescue his remains and give them a proper burial (1 Samuel 31). Why? Because forty years earlier, Saul had rescued them from certain death and slavery at the hands of their enemies (1 Samuel 11). Decades later, they remembered his good deeds and rewarded them in a way Saul would not live to see.

Think of those whose contributions have done the most to benefit humanity. How many of them knew in their lifetime that their work would make such an impact? How many biblical heroes knew we would be telling their stories millennia later? If we measure success by immediate results, how successful was Jesus’s ministry?

Your obedience to God’s call is not only significant; it is also unique. (Tweet this)

According to Dr. Meadow, your microbial cloud is distinctive: “we each give off a slightly different cocktail of those bacteria.” As a result, one day authorities might be able to identify a criminal by analyzing the microbial cloud he or she leaves behind at a crime scene. Or know where you’ve been and who you’ve contacted.

Your spiritual cloud is equally unique. You have gifts, abilities, and opportunities unlike anyone else in the world. Every good word you speak and good thing you do for God’s glory will follow you now and forever. (Tweet this)

You cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness.