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Why Cy Young and Don Shula are in the news: Knowing the God who knows each of us

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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Why Cy Young and Don Shula are in the news: Knowing the God who knows each of us
Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula is carried on his team's shoulders after his 325th victory, against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia on November 14, 1993.

Cy Young recorded the first perfect game of baseball’s modern era on this day in 1904. A perfect game is defined as one in which no opposing player reaches first base. This is different from a no-hitter, in which no opposing player gets a hit but players can get on base via walks and errors.

Young is often considered the greatest pitcher in baseball history. He holds Major League Baseball records for the most career wins with 511, along with most career innings pitched, games started, and complete games. He pitched three no-hitters, including his perfect game.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. In 1956, one year after his death, the Cy Young Award was created to honor the best pitcher in each league each year.

Former NFL head coach Don Shula is another sports legend in today’s headlines. Like Cy Young, he won more games than anyone else in his sport. He also led the Miami Dolphins to the league’s only undefeated season. After his death yesterday at the age of ninety, accolades began pouring in.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley: “There was no better man or coach in the history of the profession than coach Don Shula.” Bill Belichick: “Don Shula was one of the all-time great coaching figures and the standard for consistency and leadership in the NFL.” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel: “Coach Shula was the rare man who exemplified true greatness in every respect of his life.”

Knowing the God who knows each of us

I admit that I had not thought of either man for a long time before the news I reported today. We tend to think most about people who are most active in our lives—family, close friends, work colleagues. I never met Cy Young, who died three years before I was born, or Coach Shula. Nor am I aware of anyone I know who knew them.

Most of the people we “know” in life are known vicariously. We know who they are, but we don’t really know them. From Queen Elizabeth to President Trump to Warren Buffett, Tiger Woods, or George Clooney, the leaders and celebrities who dominate our culture are seldom known personally by most of us.

The reason is obvious—we are limited by space and time. As a result, it has been estimated that a typical person can maintain only about 150 friendships.

The good news is that our Father knows no such limits. He knows each of us better than any of us knows even ourselves. He is not bound by time, so he can hear the simultaneous prayers of billions of people because he has all of eternity for each one of them. Including you.

Your Lord invites you to “pray without ceasing” because he listens to you without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). His Son is praying for you at this very moment (Romans 8:34).

What challenges in these days of crisis would you like to bring to your Father today? What joys would you like to share with him?

All of God there is, is in this moment.