Monday, June 27, 2011

Diving to first base

“Cease striving and know that I am God” –Psalm 46:10

Summer is officially underway and here in the Ozarks, we have the hot and humid weather to prove it. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we ever needed jackets and snow shovels, but that’s what I love about the weather here. It’s always changing!

Another trademark of summer is America’s favorite pastime: baseball. We are in the middle of the season now and my 2 favorite teams, the Rangers and the Cardinals, are in first place but struggling. It seems people either love baseball or hate it. “It’s so slow and boring,” many say, but like most sports, it’s all relative. Golf is boring as we watch a little ball roll down the hill and car racing is even worse, watching cars go around in a circle a zillion times. But in spite of all the ridicule, baseball continues to be an American icon and is watched by millions.

Terence Mann’s description of baseball in “Field of Dreams” is worth remembering, “Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa [to watch baseball] for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

I loved that movie and I enjoy baseball. But there are some oddities in the game, as there are in most sports. Examples: the coaches wear the uniform of the team they coach (weird- imagine football coaches doing that!), it’s possible to strike out 4 batters in one three-out inning (the catcher drops the 3rd strike), a team can win without getting any hits (all errors), and players choose to dive for first base even though study after study shows that it makes no difference. Running through first base gets the player there just as fast, but runners choose to dive.

And many times players are injured diving to first base. Hands and limbs are left vulnerable to the spikes of the first baseman as well as the ball. But the urge to jump is just too great. The option to keep running is too simple and the need to jump is great, so off they go, knowing perfectly well that keeping their stride works out as well if not better than jumping. Sure, the batter created the problem by not hitting the ball safely to the outfield, but why compound it all by diving?

Wow! Don’t we repeat the same mistakes in our walk with God and in parenting? A problem arises (which we usually created) and instead of calling on our awesome God to lead us and guide us, we abandon our walk with Him, and we jump! We come off dirty and bruised, but at least we feel like we tried harder! A better move would be for us to take a deep breath, pray about the situation and patiently watch God work.

Baseball might be boring, but watching God work is sure exciting!

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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