There’s an old joke that goes something like this:
“Question: When are the three times baseball is mentioned in the book of Genesis?
Answer: 1: Chapters 1 – 3 tell about what happened in the Big Inning, chapter 22 tells about how Abraham made a sacrifice, and chapter says Rebekah 24 went to the well with a pitcher.”
Insert laughter. Take bow. Close curtain.
They used to call baseball America’s favorite sport when I was growing up, but full disclaimer, I was never really much of a fan. That is, I wasn’t much of a fan until I read somewhere that one of the key differences between baseball and football was that in football every play had the element of the team as an entirety; while each of the linemen, quarterback, receivers, etc. were responsible to play their individual parts, the net effect was always a composite responsibility. In baseball, EVERY move is one person having all eyes on EACH player, in turn, in a series of one-on-one events in front of potentially millions of viewers. Pitcher – batter – fielder (or catcher). Each one has each play watched and often televised in front of millions of viewers. Once I read that, I had a newfound appreciation of the psychological fortitude of the players!
But what does that have to do with the Bible or living the “Christian life?” Trick question! Unless you’re talking about Jesus himself, there is no such thing as THE Christian life. Like baseball players, we all have our own individual and even unique roles to play. Our own unique opportunities to pitch, our own unique times up at bat, our own unique opportunities to field the ball. Our own times to shine and, like every player on the field, a LOT of time waiting for the ball to come your way. Finally, if you’re like me, your own errors we make along the way during gameplay, uniquely captured probably by all too wide an audience, and replayed over and over in our minds.
So what’s happening in YOUR big inning? What do you see beginning? What has God dropped into your heart and mind as either a talent, passion, or burden? What dreams do you still have that seem so far beyond your reach it seems impossible, yet won’t go away? I have news for you – you may be on deck, taking your final practice swings before the coach calls you up at bat.
Or maybe for you it’s a time of sacrifice, of accepting that it’s time to set something down, let something go, or let something be even though it’s not something you want in the moment. A time of waiting on the bench – -maybe you’re wounded and need time to recover but you still feel the need to be back in the game. You put the uniform on and try your best to look like a team player, but deep inside you yearn for the time when things are different. It’s grueling yet you wait, excruciating but you endure. Being benched never feels good. But it’s process, not punishment; you may well be sidelined temporarily because the coach cares more about you than what you contribute to the team.
To round out the joke, whom do you go to the well with? Scratch that – do you even go to the well? Do you take time to rest, just to enjoy the company of those around you while they’re still there? I’ve been on both sides of that question, and I promise you that you’ll be glad you did. Like Rebekah, you’ll set things in motion during those times of restful service in your relationships than you’ve ever imagined. And while you’re there, drink deeply, I mean, camel deeply, because you just never know when you’re going to need the reserves.
Finally, Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (New Living Translation). Some of us are at bat, some are running the bases like crazy, some are doing their best to handle foul balls, some are waiting their turn, some are recovering from injuries, some are benched, and some are even being recruited as others retire to the Hall of Fame. But wherever you find yourself as you read these words, even if you don’t feel it at the moment (Job had no idea how much center arena he was), I promise that you are center stage and you have a crowd watching, just waiting to cheer you on. And just in case that in itself intimidates you at least a little bit, it’s okay to be afraid – it just helps you squeeze tighter onto God’s Hand as He leads you through it.
I wish you the very best of games!
If you have any comments, thoughts, or reflections, please post them in the Comments section. If you would like to correspond directly, feel free to drop me a line on the Contact page. Thank you for reading, and as always, Enjoy the Ride!!