Spiritual Lessons from Baseball

Okay, so I spend inordinate amounts of the spring, summer and even fall on a baseball field. We pretty much live there for four months. Last week: three practices on Saturday plus a double header in Bloomfield, two games on Tuesday night, one on Wednesday night, then a tournament Saturday/Sunday in Jasper. Don’t get me wrong, we love it. But, putting that much time in on the fields, certain spiritual truths have been confirmed and doors have been opened to teach my kids valuable lessons about life with Christ through a game. This series will be infrequent (like most blog series), and irregular, but I hope profitable to me, my boys, and those who read this blog.

This weekend was a roller coaster for Jake. He played incredibly well and we are always proud of his attitude and work ethic (he was up at 5:45am to hit the road for a 9am game). In the first game of the tournament (a great win for the whole team that played great defense and had timely hitting) Jake had four RBI’s and was just solid all around. We looked great in the second game for five of the six innings, but the wheels fell off the buggy in one inning and the opposing team scored four runs on a lot of errors. We found ourselves down 3-4 (Jake had one of those runs and batted another one of the runs in). With one last at bat to tie it up or pull ahead, the first two batters struck out. We were down to our last out. The next three reached on infield bloops and/or errors. So Jake came up with two outs, bases loaded in the last inning. He swang at the first pitch and hit a pretty shard ground ball to the right side of the infield. He was thrown out and the game ended. He was crushed, feeling he had let the team down.

As a parent, it was hard, but good too. It was a character building moment. Jake was upset, and that was good – if he wasn’t I would question his competitive drive. But how would he respond? Would he quit, blame others or have a defeatist attitude in the next game?

(It brought to mind this Jordan commercial:)

To me, it seems like that is a situation very parallel to my struggle against sin. Some days I feel triumphant. I feel like I’ve got old sinful patterns licked – I haven’t been rude to Lynn, haven’t lost my temper with the boys, haven’t let arrogance gain a foothold, etc. Honestly, those days are rare – I’m no Spiritual Allstar!

Other days, I’ve struck out in the bottom of the ninth – I’ve let myself, my family, the church, and more importantly my Savior down. I’ve been a poor witness in the world, done things I ought not have done and left things undone I should have done. I’ve bit my tongue would I should have spoken, spoken when I should have shut up. Those days happen more frequently than I would like to admit. But, the coach keeps putting me back in the game! I have to decide daily, will I quit and wallow in my sin? Will I just make room for my sin, resigning myself to it? Will I rationalize it and feed it? Or will I shake the dust off and get back in the game?

Jake played great the next game. I wasn’t there, but he was quick to tell he wasn’t perfect (he went 2 for 4), but a productive and contributing member of the team (with a few RBI’s and a couple of runs scored). They won 11-3 and went on to the tournament semifinal where they lost. They ended up taking third place in the tournament (out of eight teams), which is a pretty impressive showing. Certainly they wanted to win instead of lose the semifinal game, but they’ll get back up and be ready to fight in the next tournament!

That’s all you can ask for. Keep on getting back in there. I pray my family and I learn that lesson in relationship to our spiritual lives too.

Last night we ended Connexion with the song “Give Me Faith.”  The chorus says, “My flesh may fail, but my God never will.” Not exactly. Your flesh will fail, but God calls us to get back up and get in the fight (ok, now I’m mixing my metaphors).  And certainly, he gives us the grace and strength to do it.