Collecting baseball cards has been an active hobby of mine for 58 years, since five years of age. I collect vintage cards from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s. In the baseball card collector world, I am known as a “vintage set collector.” This means the goal is to collect one of every card issued from a particular year by a specific company. Baseball card collectors have a jargon to describe the condition of a card, such as good, very good, excellent, near mint, mint, etc. We also have terminology for the players which determine their monetary value: they are generally identified as superstars, stars, semi-stars, or commons.
Superstars are easy to recognize from the 1950’s-70’s: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and Sandy Koufax are just a few of those megastars. Likewise, stars and semi-stars are fairly well known. Commons not so much. They are called commons because they played major league baseball but were generally regarded as average or marginal as players. Often, their careers were short-lived at the major league level. Although a superstar card cost a ton more than a common, set collectors like me view the commons as valuable as any superstar because without them their set will not be complete. Recently, I was ecstatic when I finally found a 1961 Topps #58 baseball card of Joe Shaffernoth. Never heard of him, have you? He played three years for the Cubs from 1959-61 and had a lifetime record of three wins and eight losses. He is a classic example of a common, but to me he is as valuable as a 1961 Topps #2 Roger Maris card. Without Joe, my set would not be complete (which it now is, thank you very much!).
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t see you as man does? Man views success based on accomplishments, possessions, and power. Just as card collectors label players based on performance, we are given labels such as winners and losers or successful and not successful. Thankfully, not God. Each one of us is valuable to Him. In fact, the apostle Paul said that “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT). Have you ever considered yourself a masterpiece? God does.
Last year we started a sermon series in the book of Genesis and read where God “…formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” Genesis 2:7 (ESV). God breathes life – physical, mental, and spiritual into the one created to bear His image. Your value is not what others say about you or what you have or have not done. No, your value is determined by who made you and each one of us is wonderfully made. But it doesn’t end with being wonderfully made. God has given us a purpose in life.
We are His masterpiece, but we’re not to be like a painting or a statute that just remains in place to be viewed and appreciated. We were designed for action. God has good things for us to do that He planned beforehand. His plan for our lives doesn’t end when we believe the gospel and receive eternal salvation by grace through faith. We have an exciting life of glorifying Him, keeping our eyes on our future home in heaven, and knowing Him closely. We enjoy God by following His purpose for our lives, which allows us to experience the lasting joy of an abundant life.
So don’t let others determine who you are, whether it be a superstar or a common. You are valuable and God has given you a purpose in life. Praise Him and thank Him for this. One more thing: If anyone has a 1968 Topps #596 baseball card of Charlie Smith, please give me a ring. He is valuable!