Ok – the Rangers are not having a good second World Series night – the pitchers are walking in runs! It looks bad . . . 9-0 Giants in the eighth inning. And the Rangers went down in the ninth – game over.
Wow . . . A second big loss!
Our baseball team is struggling to perform - to be as good as they have been and we know they can be – a snapshot of life.
Ball games, like baseball or softball, show how groups of talented people work together to reach goals. They are put together by other people who can spot talent, develop it and use it to great advantage and entertainment.
Technology has changed how we watch a baseball game. Years ago, the only way I knew what players looked like was by checking their baseball cards. Now I see them close up on TV and know who shaved and who didn’t. Sometimes what I see is too much information! Close-up shots show the emotions the players experience as they play. I see faces of players in the dugouts – and the litter underneath their feet as they await their turn at bat. I see how pitchers respond to the catchers’ signals; instant replays from many different angles; freeze frames capture the sheer force of a strike-out as the bat is nowhere near the pitch.
Our recent return to being baseball fans reconnected me to a paralyzing childhood fear. The words, “It’s your turn up at bat,” or “Batter up!” panicked me when I was in school. Facing any kind of pitcher, quickly showed my athletic limitations; a strike-out, or a foul-out substantiated them. If I connected with the ball, alas, I was an easy out at first. The shame and fear of striking out, fouling out, or being tagged out was real – so was failing the team.
So our return to baseball – albeit on a couch – has been an unexpected goad, reminding me that I don’t go through life alone – I am on several teams: my family; our business; my community – state and nation, and the church. In each of these arenas, it isn’t just about my individual game – which always needs improvement, no matter the venue. It’s about how I am helping my team, even from a position of limitations.
I see people I love who are struggling; they are up at plate, or playing a base or outfield in the games of their lives, and for all the times they are stellar players, other time they fail. What am I doing? Am I so hung up on myself – my very real failures and selfish ambitions – that I can’t see fellow teammates are struggling too?
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth – a bustling city which had many of the same sins that stumble 21st century Christians – and said he ran his race to win – and he urged the church to do likewise. (1 Cor. 9:24-25) He was quite a competitor (Philippians 3:4-6) He had his eyes on the prize – and yet he saw those who stumbled – felt a deep compassion. “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Cor. 11:28-29)
I want the Rangers to win – but I can’t help them.
I want my family to win. Not just success in the world’s eyes – but success in God’s eyes. I can help them. I want all of them to wear a victor’s wreathe – my husband and children, and their children; for my brother and his family; for aunts and uncles, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews – everyone I know! For my church – for the pastors and teachers, choir and servants, I want them to be lights that can’t be extinguished or hidden. And if I and those closest to me “win” the races set before us, perhaps my nation will one day love the Lord.
The starting point is knowing and caring how other people are doing – and considering their welfare as important as mine.
Impossible? Well, look how the Rangers have come together, and how far they have come. Despite reversals, uncertainties and failures, they kept showing up, they kept playing ball and they got beyond their past! It’s an example I can practice; it’s an example I recommend – whether or not they win the World Series.