Take Me Out to the Ball Game

For the LORD gives wisdom . . . he holds victory in store for the upright. – Proverbs 2:6, 7 NIV

I love baseball!

I often think how guidelines to playing the game translate into wise counsel for living life victoriously. Here, in no particular order and listed as they came to me, is some of the advice I heard my husband give my son during our baseball years:

  1. Keep alert. Be ready for that ball to come to you. Anticipate the next play. The same is true in life. Much comes bouncing, flying straight at you when you least expect it. “Stay alert,” the apostle Peter wrote, “keep a firm grip on the faith” (1 Peter 5:8 The Message).
  • Listen to your coach. Know the signs and heed them. He’s the coach for a reason—he knows more than you about the game and he sees what you, in your position on the field, can’t. He wants you to overcome the opponent and come out on top. In life, “trust in the LORD and do good,” (Psalm 37:3), for in heeding Him “there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11). (Don’t forget Isaiah 55:8–9.)
  • Back up your pitcher. Support your team members. I remember the wife of David’s Little League coach cheering for the team to “talk it up out there.” The coach didn’t want silence on the field—he wanted to hear them encouraging each other. And don’t expect the pitcher to do it all. No matter how well he’s pitching, he needs some run support from the rest of the team if they want to win the game. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • Bad calls are part of the game. There’s nothing you can do about them. Arguing, whining, and letting it affect your attitude the rest of the game won’t help you or the rest of the team. Shrug it off. Life isn’t fair, either. Forget what’s behind you and press on to what’s ahead (Philippians 3:13–14).
  • Rain delays are part of the game, too. Sometimes you find yourself in a waiting period. You can’t stop the rain, but you can use the time to practice patience. (Psalm 37:7, Isaiah 40:31)
  • You win some, and you lose some. Cut your losses, learn from them, and don’t let your wins get to your head. Instead, work on your weaknesses and don’t let pride nullify what strengths you have. (Proverbs 16:18).
  • Training is necessary, painful, and stretches you beyond your limits. But it also builds strength and character. The difficult things you face in life are the training ground God uses shape you into the person He wants you to be. (1 Corinthians 9:24–29)
  • Put on your game face. Attitude can make or break you. Like the renowned catcher Yogi Bera said, “Ninety percent of the game is half-mental.” So it is in life—what you think, what goes through your mind day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute—can be the determining factor in winning or losing, in overcoming or succumbing.  (Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8–9)
  • You can do a lot on two outs. “The game isn’t over until it’s over” (Yogi Bera). Or in the words of the late Winston Churchill: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” And in the words of St. Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

 Help me, Lord, be to wise enough to heed Your guidelines. Amen.

Read and reflect on Proverbs 2:1–11.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

In the Waiting Room

Read and reflect on Psalm 13.

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD. —Psalm 27:14 NKJV

The phone rang while my husband and I were having supper. It was our youngest son, David.

“I’m on my way to the hospital,” he said. “I broke my arm playing first base.”

My heart sank. After enduring shoulder surgery and months of physical therapy a year and a half earlier, David, a pitcher, had worked hard to get back in form. The coach for his summer league team had been playing him on first and third bases for the games between his starts, planning to use him on the mound for the must-win games.

Nearly three hours later, David called back. The bone just above the wrist on his left arm—not his pitching arm, thank heaven—was broken clear through and was out of place.

“I have to come back to the hospital tomorrow for surgery to put the bone back in place,” he said. “I might need pins.”

After we hung up, I packed my bag for the next day with plenty of reading material, a crossword puzzle book, bottles of water and juice, and fruit. I knew it would be a long day in the hospital waiting room. There was nothing I could do but wait for the outcome — and worry how we’d replace the income from his summer construction job. Now, instead of playing in the big tournament or putting away money for school, he’d be nursing a broken arm, waiting for it to heal in time for fall ball.

More time is spent in life’s waiting rooms, I think, than on the field of play. Like the psalmist, I often cry, “How long, O LORD? How long? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1)

I don’t like being benched in a waiting room, but I’m learning to deal with it. And I’m learning to deal with the disappointment, confusion, frustration, and anger that accompany the waiting. Oh, the emotions aren’t as intense as they once were, but still they pop up, undermining the faith that’s the foundation of my life: “Do you really believe God protects you and those you love? Maybe you didn’t pray enough. Maybe it’s all a lie.”

That’s when I open my Bible and do my faith-strengthening exercises. I like Psalms for low-faith times because the writer plumbs the depths of emotions that we, too, experience. Voicing his anguish and looking for answers that seem too long in coming, he reaches a turning point, where his questions collide head-on with faith: “But I trust in your unfailing love; and my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5–6).

Maybe waiting time isn’t wasting time, after all. For the lessons learned in the waiting room and the work God does in us while we wait are much more valuable than the answer we think we should have. For the harder a thing is to attain, the greater will be the triumph.

When the questions are hard and the answers don’t come, when my faith falters and my beliefs grow brittle, remind me, Lord, the waiting room is where faith grows best. Amen.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay