I am not sure if everyone is aware that I coach baseball at Mt. View High School. I have done this for two years now and I absolutely love it! I also played baseball for most of my life. I started breaking widows with rocks around 5 and was playing catch with my dad starting around age 2. Its just part of who I am and how God has made me. Now that I am older and much wiser (well sort of) I have realized that our spiritual walks are a lot like the game of baseball. Now if you are not a baseball fan… first of all, we can no longer be friends. But secondly, and most importantly, I would hang in there with this analogy because at the very least you’ll know an embarrassing story about me when your done.
Now before I start, I have to clear this up. I am not literally saying that baseball is the most important thing. The title of this should be taken very lightly because obviously I know that life is much more then a game of baseball. Are you good now? OK good, here we go…
As I mentioned before, my life was all about baseball growing up. I was inthralled with the game and all it had to offer. I played on select teams and with older kids for most of my baseball career, until I got into High School where I couldn’t do that anymore. All of my coaches, up to that point, had been friends from church and my dad. There is one story in particular they will never let me forget. I shall share this story with you now for you to make fun of me.
I was 9 years old. I was pitching against an older team made of up of 11-12 year olds, and was struggling to throw strikes. I must clarify that when I say “struggling” I mean I had throw like 11 balls all game. This of course, being the young pup that I was, made me start crying uncontrollably. If you are not familiar with how pitching works the objective is to throw strikes. You are also going to throw a lot of pitches that are not strikes and those are called balls. Now, when a kid who is obsessed with baseball doesn’t play the game absolutely perfect he tends to cry (or maybe that was just me). I wanted to play the game of baseball with absolute perfection all the time. This was my drive. However, when I failed I melted down and beat myself up more then anyone else could ever do. To remind you, I am in the middle of a game, in the middle of the field, on the pitchers mound… crying.
One of my coaches calls timeout, and walks from the dug out to come talk to me out on the mound. He, very gently, asks for the ball and tells one of my teammates to come and pitch. I was destroyed. I thought I had failed the whole team, let down my coaches, my dad, my mom, my church, my future wife and children, and Mark McGwire (my favorite baseball player at that time). It was almost like in a movie where the character looks up and sees a mental picture of their idol standing in the corner just shaking their head. Thats where I was emotionally. My coach pulls me aside and says “Kenan whats wrong?” I reply through sobs “I wasn’t throwing enough strikes coach, I let everyone down.” He smiles and puts his hand on my shoulder “Kenan it’s OK, you didn’t let anyone down. The only reason we took you out of the game was because we were crying. We didn’t want you falling apart on the mound.” After another deep breath he bent down to my level and asked “Kenan, who is the only perfect person?” Now, to remind some of you, I am a Pastor’s son. My dad is one of my coaches. This coach who is talking to me is an elder at our church. So when he asks this question, he is confident that I am going to reply that Jesus was the only perfect person. This would then cheer me up and I would realize that there is no way I am going to be perfect. I looked him strait in the eye, and said… “Mark McGwire?”
While this story will forever be one of those told around a camp fire, and whenever I am in the company of those coaches. In fact, my dad has used this story as a sermon illustration more then any other story. I was so into baseball that it was all I could think about. I was blind to any other answer that didn’t involved baseball.
For those who have never played the game, baseball is a sport built around failure. If you get a hit 3 out of 10 times at the plate. You are considered a Hall of Fame player. So let me do the math for you. In baseball, if you fail 7 out of 10 times you are considered great! That is absolutely ridicules! How can someone who fails that many times be someone who is praised and payed millions of dollars for their efforts?
This is my connection to life. God does not expect us to be perfect. He knows we are going to fail. Just like every coach knows his players are going to fail and quite honestly, fail a lot. There are times when a player is in a “slump” and needs special attention. There are times when a player is working really hard and their performance shows their hard work. The opposite is also true. If a player is not spending time practicing the necessary skills, their performance is going to suffer.
If we are not spending time with God our spiritual life is going to suffer. We are not going to be able to focus on anything else except our own petty lives because that is what we are consumed by. The world as a lot of distractions it can throw our way. In fact, the world is really good it. That is why life is also built around failure. God knows we are going to stubble through life. We are going to get into “slumps” that we can’t seem to get out of. We are going to do really dumb things that make other question our hearts. The most important thing to remember is that there has only been one perfect person to ever walk this earth. His name is Jesus Christ. We are no help to the Kingdom of God if we beat ourselves up when we fail. This is what our enemy wants us to do. However, God wants us to come to him and be filled by Him in all that we do and all we are.
What are some things that you need to give over to God? Do you feel like you are failing in a curtain area of life over and over again? Get involved with Christ and a church. Allow God’s community, as broken and hypocritical as the world makes it out to be, to come along side you. Be open about your struggles. The Church is meant to be a hospital for the sick. We are all in this together. We need each other and we need God to guide us as we walk through this “game” called life.