Tag Archives: baseball

Little Blessings

When we think of blessings, we think of the big things, right? Buying a home, buying a car, graduation, retirement. But today, I find joy in the little blessings. For the last couple of months, I had been walking such a dark journey through my depression that it has been hard to see the little blessings.

They came out in full force last night though. My younger son had a baseball game so we packed up to go to the ballpark shortly before 5:00. We were all excited because one of the original coaches of our team was in town and was coming to the game. Shortly after we arrived, the other young men on the team started showing up, and shortly after that, the coach arrived. There were hugs and handshakes all around and good conversation. The hallmarks of friendship or should I say family. It was a neat thing to see and certainly was a blessing to me.

As game time moved closer, I began talking with some of the fans who had come to cheer the team on. They were family members of the other young men–some I was just meeting and others I had known for a while. It was interesting to talk with people who were from different parts of my state. We noticed that no one from the other team had shown up. Our guys were all warmed up, and we were waiting. The umpires showed up, and we were still waiting. Finally, my husband, who is also one of the coaches, made a few phone calls and found out the other team wasn’t coming. Mistakes had occurred, and he hadn’t been notified. An aggravation to be sure, and I hated that our old coach wasn’t going to see a game. It didn’t seem to bother the team that much though, and they ended up practicing.

The little blessings continued through the practice. A friend of mine came out, and we all had a good time talking about anything and everything. I also had the chance to reflect over the last five years which is when my older son started playing in this league. We have been blessed by having both of our sons play in this league. They, and we, have gained forever friends, and both of my sons have learned important life lessons. Neither of them will ever play baseball professionally, but that’s not the point. They have spent time learning how to work hard and to get better at something, to form relationships with people, and to be physically active. All valuable lessons and all little blessings to me.

The end of the practice did not result in the end of the little blessings. My family, our old coach, and one of the other present coaches all went out to dinner. We had a great time talking about baseball and sharing memories of the last five years. My older son even Face Timed from college so he could say hello to his former coach and to the rest of us. We were there long enough that we closed the restaurant down. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. Since college, I think. This time though made me see much more clearly how God has been there for my family and has given us so many little blessings. May we all see the little blessings in our lives!

 

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Christian Lessons from the Ballpark

Yesterday began the sixth time I’ve taken this journey since we’ve moved here. The beginning of baseball season. This time means so much to me. I’ve watched both of my sons grow up on the ball field. It’s how we learned our way around our new city. It’s how our city became home and how we became receptive to finding a new church. A time of growth for our family. So, for the next few weeks, I will be writing about some of the lessons to be learned from baseball and how they relate to Christianity.

The first of these lessons relates to community. Baseball is a team sport more so, I think, than basketball or football. Sure, baseball can have its superstars. I’m thinking of such names as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, or Hank Aaron. And yes, there are plenty of individual baseball players who have established records in the sport. To win games though, the whole team needs to work together. A pitcher can throw a no-hitter, but if his team doesn’t get at least one run, they won’t win the game. It can go the other way too. A team can have a superstar hitter, but if they don’t have good defense in the outfield, they won’t get enough runs to win the game either. In other words, a baseball team needs to work together to win the game.

It’s the same way with our churches and our faith. We need to work together as we live in community and share the love of Jesus with the world around us. Sure, we can go it alone. My family tried to do that for a number of years. But, we missed out on deep relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters, and we missed seeing God in action through a community.

There isn’t one person better than another in our churches either. Satan tries to put us at odds with one another by making us think so, but what counts with God is that we are all working together to solve our problems and to model what Jesus’ love looks like by loving one another in community.

This is demonstrated in Acts 2:42-47. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

These were people of faith who lived and worked together in community just like baseball players need to work together as a team. Modern day Christians also need to live and work together in community. This is a hard thing because our society has become so individually minded. Satan whispers that each of us should be recognized for our contributions and that we should always have our way.

Jesus directly contradicts this in Matthew 20:25-28. “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'”

Today, I pray that we who believe will all have servants’ hearts and that we will be able to live and work together in community!

God’s blessings on all of you today!

A Joy or a Chore (Beyond Our Walls)

I never envisioned someone using a baseball movie in the devotions from my church, but someone has done that this morning. Besides being involved at church, we are also a baseball family so it was a familiar metaphor. The devotion is entitled Field of Dreams, and it spoke of how people will come once something is built. Now, in the movie, the thing being built was a baseball field, but the devotion compared it to what we are hoping to build at church and what we need to be building in our own lives.

Something struck me about the movie metaphor. Playing and watching baseball games was depicted as going back to a time of childhood innocence, or joy, if you will.  And yes, childhood is generally a time of joy.

I thought of another time though that is usually a time of joy–when a person first becomes a believer. They are excited about what has happened to them, and they want to share it with everyone they come in contact with. Then, as time progresses, they lose that joy, and everything about their faith becomes more of a chore. What happened? Did they become weighed down with responsibility like the characters in the movie, like a lot of children do as they grow into adulthood? Did suffering and pain enter their lives?

There are as many answers as there are questions as to why someone loses their joy; the joy they felt when they first believed in God. I think some of that might be because of the definition of joy–“a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” When life has weighed people down with its burdens, it’s hard to remember what joy is and how to experience it. God gave us the other feelings too, and we have a hard time thinking that joy can co-exist with other emotions.

But, the joy of God is deeper than the joy of the world. He speaks of this in Scripture. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

I especially liked some of the references from Psalms. Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Another one was from Psalm 126:5. “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”

We don’t do a good job of teaching this in the western church. People think they are supposed to be happy all the time in their faith, and when they aren’t, the joy leaves them. The practices of their faith become more of a chore, something to check off on a list.

Some would say this is innate, that joy comes from inside of a person, and while this is true, I believe we have our part in helping new believers to keep their joy in God. This can be done by helping them to develop the disciplines of prayer and Bible study which can also be helpful for older believers. Also, and this is the most important, we all need to walk with each other in community. Having the love and support of other believers in good times and in bad can help all of us as we seek to become closer to God and to have the joy in our faith that we had when we first became believers.

God’s blessings on all of you today!