Saturday, June 12, 2010

Baseball and Life

I grew up following baseball, America’s game. My favorites, among others, included such notables as Dizzy Dean, Bob Feller, and Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial and a host of others. I received the Chicago Cub News, which I read avidly, and especially enjoyed the battles between Chicago’s Cubs and the St Louis Gas House Gang. One of my all-time favorites was Dizzy Dean, the man described as having a million-dollar arm and a ten-cent head. I later married a distant relative of Ole Diz and I still enjoy a good game of baseball, but that became the extent of my baseball career.

Although I don’t watch much anymore, there is one I would watch if I had the opportunity--#2 grandson, who plays for Fridley, MN High School. This undersized over-achieving competitor has worked his way into regular playing time on both the baseball and football teams as an underclassman. As a Junior now, he has become enough of a leader that in his senior year he will share leadership roles on both the baseball and football teams,as one of the team captains. Way to go Austin; he knows his grandpa is proud of him.

Baseball offers some interesting analogies for young men like Austin. For example: people are batting for their lives every time they are confronted with the invitation of Christ. It takes only one good clean single to get on base, but to reject an invitation as important as one from Christ could be likened to a strike out.

Watching the story of Joran Vander Sloot unfold makes me so aware of how easy it is for young people to go off in other directions, where their dreams collapse and their lives fall into disarray. One need not work out all of his or her problems before becoming a Christian; fact is, becoming a Christian is the best way to find help for overcoming one’s problems.

Nonetheless, one does need a solid hit to get on base. Once on base, growth follows in the Christian graces of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins” (2 Peter 1:9 NAS).

Austin is not a heavy hitter, but he is an instinctive athlete. He has a good work ethic, he handles his body well and has a good eye for the ball, while being fast on his feet. He already knows that to neglect these skills is to fail to move into scoring position at third base. Next to getting on base, the next most important thing is for the runner to get to third base.

Every play made by the team on the field is calculated to prevent that base-runner from scoring. Stealing home has the least chance of success, and a careless runner can sometimes be tricked out. On other occasions a fly ball will get a runner on third base into trouble, but a fast, alert base runner is always a threat once he gets on base.

Old-time Detroit Tiger fans remember one particular year when the Detroit Tigers were clawing hard to claim a pennant championship, and they were close as Mullen and Moriarity. Mullen came to bat with Moriarity on third and only one out. Mullen hit a long fly ball. Moriarity happened to be off base when the ball was caught, but he tagged up quickly and raced for home.

The fielder threw a hard and accurate ball to the catcher at home plate and cut off the runner. Moriarity made it safely back to third--barely. The next batter struck out and the Tigers had lost their press for the pennant. The paper announced this epitaph: “Moriarity and the Tigers died on third.”

It can be easy to die on third. Pride can cause us to carelessly lose a chance to score. Jesus said, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Others continue residing in the far country of prodigal living, dissipating themselves and their resources. They love pleasure, or themselves, more than they love God. Their hearts follow their treasures into far-off places. Unwilling to discipline themselves in the skills of the game of life, they die at third, without scoring.

While base hits count in the statistical column, only the runs scored win the games. We need to have our heads and our hearts in life’s game, and we need to run the bases alertly. Most important of all, we need to advance to third base with caution and position ourselves to score home and make our hit count.

Toward the end of his life, Paul told young Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Instead of dieing on third, prepare to complete your journey home and register your score.From Warner's World, this is

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