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.

Of Kicks and Crowns

The fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness. – Galatians 5:22 NIV

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master. – Matthew 25:21 RSV

Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. … the Master you are serving is Christ. –Colossians 3:23, 24 NLT

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

“I knew I shouldn’t have sent that manuscript evaluation before the guy paid me,” I grumbled to my husband one night at the supper table. “Now I’ll never get paid. What do I get for being nice? A kick in the pants.”

“No,” he said, with a knowing smile. “Another jewel in your crown.”

“And what about that book order I sent on good faith that the lady really did just put the check in the mail, like she claimed?” I continued, ignoring his comment. “Twenty-two bucks may not sound like a lot, but we could really use that money now.”

He grinned. “Another jewel in your crown.”

I wasn’t in the mood to hear about jewels in my someday crown. We needed money in our checking account. My freelance work wasn’t just slow—it had come to a screeching halt.

I thought of all the books and bookmarks I’d given away, the hours I’d spent—way more than I was paid for—painstakingly editing mediocre manuscripts because I felt each author deserved my best work. I thought of all the work I’d done gratis—articles written, workshops taught, manuscripts edited. I thought of all the recent opportunities for writing, speaking, and editing that had fallen through. I thought of the paying job doing something I loved that I gave up because I believed God called me to write full time. And now doors were slamming shut in my face.

Weren’t you supposed to be rewarded for doing the right thing and being faithful?

“You know the verse about ‘casting your bread on the waters and after many days, you’ll find it again’?” I said.

Sensing I was on a roll and nothing he could say would derail me, Dean didn’t even nod.

“Well,” I continued, “my bread must have gotten water-logged and sunk, or gobbled up by fish and fowl.”

Faithfulness isn’t easy. Especially when you’ve done all the Good Book says to do, and you don’t see the fruit of your labors.

When you’ve trained up your children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), and they choose not to follow it. When you’ve faithfully brought your tithe into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10), but the windows of heaven remain shut tight. When you’re kind, thoughtful, and pleasant to people, treating them the way you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), and they’re snippy, rude, and thoughtless in return.

Sometimes I get tired of doing the right thing. Of being the nice guy. Nice guys get taken advantage of. They get ignored, overlooked. They’re overworked and underpaid. And, like me, they sometimes become battle-weary and weak, vulnerable to doubt and despair.

We can give in or choose to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), remembering that “He who called us is faithful” (1 Thessalonians 5:24) and will keep His Word (Isaiah 55:11). Even when we’re faithless, God remains faithful because He cannot be false to Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

These days I find myself repeating the words of Jim Cymbala: “Though in my heart I’ve questioned, even failed to believe, He’s been faithful, faithful to me.”

How can I be any less?

Dear God, I’ve poured my heart and soul into what You’ve called me to do, but, for all my labor, I see little, if any, fruit. I feel like such a failure. Help me to persist and persevere in the face of disappointment and discouragement and to leave the fruit up to You. Remind me that You have not called me to be successful, but to be faithful. Amen.

 Read and reflect on Matthew 25:14–46.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.