A Full Count and a Curve Ball

So we’re in the middle stages of the “Boys of Summer” doing their thing, trying to make it to the World Series. As a kid I’ve stood with a bat in hand , pretending to be facing a full count, and of course, belting one out of the park. Fat chance, as I tried out for Little League and never made a team; too many kids and not enough coaches to field them all. Oh well, I don’t have to make a living standing at the plate in front of thousands, millions by TV, and whiff at an unexpected curve ball. A fast ball dancing around the corners of the plate is one thing, but a curve ball starts one place and suddenly takes a dive down and away, making the batter look rather foolish.

I’ve had that same look on my face when out of no where a circumstance appeared unexpectedly, leaving me scratching my head, realizing I had just struck out. In front of the hosts of heaven and all my peers and family, I whiffed and came up empty. We all have had those moments when life just pitched us something unfair. We reasoned that no one should be expected to hit something like that, no matter what size the bat or how much practice was taken. That reasoning doesn’t change the results however. We might turn around and yell at the Umpire/YHWH, and question the legitimacy of the call. We might charge the mound and take it out on hasatan, but the reality is we tried, believed in our attempt, gave it all we had, and missed.

I took a new pastoral assignment in 1995. a LONG time ago, and moved my family to the far Southwest Virginia mountains. The Appalachians are full of great people, and full of churches, which are full of tradition and religious expectations. Our first encounter with the new congregation went exceptionally well, leaving me with a feeling of being able to hit home runs on a regular basis. I went into the “batter’s slump” after about 6 months, watching my average go down with each appearance on Sunday morning. Almost two years to the day, I struck out for the final time and was traded to another team. While I blamed the pitcher and my team at the time, I now look back and realize that my own arrogance and pride might have had just a little to do with my departure. Nevertheless, I whiffed at the curve and it was my empty swing that sat me down.

So, the truth of the matter is this. We need to strike out every once in a while. If we only face token fast balls down the middle, knowing every life pitch before it’s released, we would lose the integrity of the game and become bored. I can hear you hollering, “Bring on the boredom!!” I understand the sentiment, but we all know life is not designed that way. Challenging the Umpire or charging the mound may make you feel better, but you are stuck with the same results. Striking out, failing in spite of your best effort, keeps us honest. We realize that we can’t take anything for granted, that all things come through the effort of prayer, seeking after His wisdom and instruction. Our adversary is not likely to walk us, so we are going to have to put the bat on the ball and make something happen. So what do we do?

Well, for one thing, stop swinging for the fence on every pitch. We all want to be the hero and get the applause for doing something spectacular, but life is more about base hits. Doing the right and honest thing on a daily basis is the most important part of being on your team; your family. They need to see you try again, to make strong efforts at living above reproach, to encourage your team mates, and to play defense as well as standing in the box. Showing up for team events, even those as boring as practice. Your heart, your attitude, your integrity, and your patience are far more productive than home runs. You still score, it just takes a little longer around the bases.

Another thing is to know the pitcher. Kefa [Peter] said to “…be sober, watch because your adversary is like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour…” [1 Kefa 5:8] We shouldn’t be surprised when the serpent acts like a serpent and seeks to strike at us. Knowing where he gained advantage over us before and knowing his tactics enable us to not be caught off guard. If he exposes your weaknesses, rejoice! Now you know what to work on and what to cry out to Yah for deliverance from. Throwing things in the dugout won’t change you; it’s just a mess you’ll have to clean up. Get focused. Be smart. Don’t let him fool you twice. Go to your Father about your failure and cry out to Him for the skill and wisdom that you need. We didn’t start out on this journey to end up on the bench, pouting about what hasn’t gone right. This game is not about you, it’s about Him and about us. At this stage of the season, every game counts, as a loss might just send us all back home. We don’t have time for that. So realize that we all need you. No pressure right?

The count is full, you’re at the plate, and we need your successful at bat. Everyone in the dugout is counting on you. Old Slick is winding up and you just know a curve is coming. Don’t get fooled again, just get on base. The next guy up will get you home. Y’shuah never strikes out!