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.

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.