A Little Bit of Run Support

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

During our son David’s last year to play college baseball, my husband and I were on the road from February until May, catching as many games as we could. So we got to know and appreciate the boys who backed up David when he pitched. They were an amazing group of young men.

We heard apologies when an error was committed, allowing a runner on base. We witnessed the disappointment they felt when they weren’t producing the hits needed to win and when they knew they weren’t playing up to their potential.

Yes, there were slumps—in batting and in pitching. But when a player was down, others encouraged him and took up the slack. When David came off the mound after a bad inning, the guys lined up to give him high fives and let him know they still believed in him.

And even though he was disappointed in his performance and upset with himself, I was proud of the way he encouraged the other young pitchers when they, too, struggled. No one understands what a pitcher feels coming off the mound after an inning when he’s given up runs, extra-base hits, walks, or hit batters. When he knows he’s let his team down. No one, except someone else who has experienced it.

When I prayed for David to have his best year ever, I was thinking ERAs, wins, and all those stats that don’t really show how much he matured as a ballplayer, a leader, and a man. And how self-centered that prayer really was.

But in spite of myself, God answered my prayer. Not in impressive stats for David, but in blessing the team as a whole—and in opening my eyes to the reality that David was having his best year ever—because he was on a team that knew what a team was and acted as one. No egos tainted the dugout. No self-serving attitudes strutted around the field.

They all were stars who took with them into life the lessons they learned on the ball field and in the dugout—lessons they taught me as I watched them: That it’s not about me, but about us. It’s not about being served and pampered and catered to, but about serving and loving and encouraging when the chips are down. It’s saying, in action, “I believe in you” after a poor performance. It’s not about what you can do for me, but what I can do for you. It’s about ignoring the pain and playing hurt because you know that others need you. It’s about having a good attitude when the coach gives another guy the position for which you think you’re better qualified and for which you worked so hard.

It’s about learning the vital importance of submission and obedience and making the best of things. It’s about keeping on when you’ve given all you’ve got, only to come up short. When nothing goes your way—when the balls you hit always seem to fly right into the opposing player’s glove and the balls the other team hits always manage to find the gaps, when a bad bounce allows the other team to score the go-ahead run, when the umpire makes a bad call that the turns the momentum of the game—you keep on fighting and don’t give up, give in, or give out.

It’s about letting pain and disappointment be the teachers they are meant to be and hone your character as good innings and victories cannot and will not. Our deepest pain and disappointment are usually the places where we can best help others.

“I knew if we gave David a little bit of run support,” the second baseman said after one win, “he would be fine on the mound.”

A little bit of run support—isn’t that what we all need?

Dear God, help me to stop thinking about myself and open my eyes to those around me who can use “a little run support.” Amen.

Read and reflect on Romans 15:1–7; 2 Corinthians 1:3–7

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

Lessons from the Sea Turtle

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. –Psalm 42:5 (NIV)

When my husband and I visited the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island, I became fascinated with sea turtles.

I learned that Mama Sea Turtle lays her eggs—as many as 120 at a time—in a nest she digs on a sandy beach, far enough away from the shoreline that the tides won’t reach it, yet close enough for the baby turtles to make their way to their ocean home once they’ve hatched and climbed out of the nest.

Sixty days after they’re laid, the eggs hatch, and the hatchlings make their way to the shoreline. Thirty to 35 years later, females will return to the beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.

The baby turtles’ lives are fraught with danger—mostly from predators on land and in the sea—but the period they are most vulnerable is when they make their trek from the nest to the shoreline.

Once they’ve hatched, the little turtles head for the brightest horizon. Hence during hatching season the lights on beachfront buildings are turned off and residents close their window blinds at night so the hatchlings don’t head for the wrong light.

Not only are they exposed to predators on their dash to the sea, but also they’re in danger of dehydration from the sun. Many don’t make it.

Yet helping them get from nest to surf is not in the best interest of the turtles. Although it’s a time fraught with danger, it’s necessary for the young turtles to make the trek themselves.

The crawl to the ocean allows them to wake up—remember they are only hours old. Alertness, mobility, and strength increase as they move.

The trek is also an important part of a complicated process whereby their surroundings are imprinted on the brains of the baby turtles, so the females will return to the very beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.

I liken the hatchlings’ crawl to the ocean to the times in our lives when we, too, have to muddle through. Let’s take a lesson from the sea turtle.

First, head for the right light. Many false lights clamor for our attention, but only one Light is the right one that will lead us to our eternal home. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus said. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Second, know the trek is necessary. The trial will make you stronger. It will refine you: “For you, O God, have tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10). It will develop perseverance and maturity: “The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3–4).

Also, trials purify your faith: “These (trials) have come so that your faith—of even greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine” (1 Peter 1:7).

And finally, the trials impress upon us that our lives are not random wanderings. We were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27)—thus we bear His imprint. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). After our sojourning, which will include many times of trial, we’ll find our way to home—and our Creator—again.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the Light that guides me through the muddling times and to home. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 42.

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