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.

Heart Issues

Image in public domain

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 NIV

When we had a dog, it was important to give her a medication that guarded her heart against worms. Her health depended on it.

I was reminded of this when I read an article recently about teaching our children to fence in, or guard, their hearts.

As parents, we do our best to train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and teach them which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. With diligent and consistent discipline, we fence in their behavior and in the process teach them to do the same thing. At least we hope so.

But behavior is one thing, heart attitude is another.

While we pray the training we give them and the example we set are automatically going to affect their heart attitudes, I wonder – we may have control over their behavior (to a point), but do we truly have control over their hearts?

Does not behavior result from heart attitude?

We may act a certain way to be accepted, please others, get what we want, but that behavior may not reflect our true heart attitude. Most of us care what others think of us, and we would be aghast if they knew the true condition of our heart – if they caught a glimpse of the ugliness we do our best to hide even from ourselves.

When I gave my heart to Jesus, I gave Him my love, my life, my loyalty, my obedience in exchange for His love in me (Galatians 5:22), His life in me (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:10), His strength in me to be true and submissive (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9–11).

But my heart is still mine to maintain. I will always have a choice to love Him, obey Him, submit to Him, follow Him.

That’s why it’s important that I guard my heart and keep it pure.

“Above all else,” Scripture tells us, “guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

How do we guard or, in the words of the article writer, fence in our heart?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6–7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

God’s peace will guard your heart if you (1) pray and leave things in God’s hands, and (2) thank Him even before you see an answer. Let go and let God do His thing.

Another way to guard your heart is to watch what you allow in. Garbage in, garbage out. Build and maintain a fence that will allow only the highest and best in. Again I quote Philippians: “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (4:8). Guard whatever your eyes see and your ears hear, for these are the pathways to the heart.

We’re also to keep our hearts pure. And we can’t do that alone.

Prayer is the key here. Only God can purify my heart and cleanse me on the inside.

And so I pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . Point out anything in me that offends you” (Psalm 139:23, 24). And again: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

How are you guarding your heart?

Be the fence around my heart, O God. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 139:23–24

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.