Baseball. It taught me who I am and what to never, ever, do.
It all started on the bus ride to a game…
“Hey….Kelly,” the men’s Italian voices echoed in unison as I walked down the center aisle, clothed brightly in both team colors and Disney World-like smile. Breathing it all in, I could fully sense the air of excitement: it smelled like Syran-wrapped ham sandwiches with American cheese, it sounded like a portable pre-game radio talk and it felt like the freedom of crunched peanut shells underfoot.
Crackerjack box in hand, I left that bus and walked the stands like I owned the place. This day, I’d be – encourager. The fans would hear my chants, they’d see my team colors and, like last year, I’d start the wave. No doubt, where two or more are gathered, my sister and me? We’d move mountains – or the masses in this case.
We did. We cheered and the wave moved the stadium. The game was groundbreaking. I didn’t watch a lick of it. Still, I learned: she who thinks she is small is big when she let’s loose God’s gifts within her.
I liked that idea, very much. What I didn’t like was all this talk about the pitcher’s slump. Apparently, he lost his luck, which was ironic since he did a little song and dance before every pitch. Plus, I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly be in a “slump.” He was still the same man as yesterday. He wasn’t hurt or crippled. He could still throw 102 miles an hour. He still was strong and powerful. Yet, somewhere along the line, his mind failed him. I guess he figured, “I’ve lost my effectiveness,” or “I’m a fraud.” Maybe he thought, “They’ll all laugh at me if I do bad” or “I really never was as good as I thought.”
That pitcher? The fear that stole his could, was the mindset of – I can’t.
I’ve had his mind of anxiety lately – one of I can’t. I can’t act godly enough. I can’t love my kids well enough. I can’t do what God is calling me to. I can’t find my way. I can’t get out of the hole of discouragement. God can’t really love me, can he?
Fear has sent me to left-field looking for daisies.
And that gift of encouragement? The one that rises people out of their seats, the one that can move masses, the one that sings Jesus’ name? It’s a crumb in the bleachers.
What gift of God feels lost? Frightened away by fears?
What spiritual base of – I can – through Christ – has been stolen by the mindset of – I can’t?
Perhaps, like the pitcher, we recognize, our mind may say we can’t, but the grace of Jesus says, “We can.”
Grace says we are:
Loved beyond the very definition of the word.
Cared for infinitely and intimately.
As much saved today as yesterday.
As free as the grave is empty.
As victorious as Jesus is lion.
As gifted as always.
Our mindset doesn’t define us, a mind set on Christ does.
Choose to win.
Baseball is a fight to win. So is the Christian walk. You can’t walk out on the field of dreams without the armor of grace, truth and love. That’s a fight in futility friends. I’ve played like that – in defeat – for 36/38ths of my Christian life. I remained – slumped.
Sure, I knew Scripture.
Sure, I knew about God.
Sure, I knew the right thing to do.
But, surely it was in my head, not my heart.
A switch must occur. Have you heard of a switch-hitter? It is a player who can hit from either side of the plate. God is calling us to switch to a new mindset that can attack any fear, fret or fury from any side. With a mind set on Christ, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing can stop us.
Today, let’s be switch-hitters – ones with eyes set on Christ, ones ready to fight -and win.
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