Opening Day Is Here!
Bobby Cohoon, who blogs at Little Sorrel, is a true baseball fan. For us poor suffering diamond dogs (and the extremely poor baseball wives who suffer with us from now till October), winter will not truly end until the first pitch hits the catcher’s mitt Sunday night in St. Louis. He has a tradition of dedicating a blog entry to Opening Day, and this year has graciously invited some others from the blogosphere to participate. To him, a suffering Reds fan, and to my wife, who hasn’t selected her team for this year, I dedicate this entry.
Dorothy Wordsworth once wrote, “It is a pleasure to the real lover of nature to give winter all the glory he can, for summer will make its own way and speak its own praises.”
By way of contrast, Bill Veeck once wrote, “There are only two seasons — winter and baseball.”
Opening Day has finally arrived! No more Hot Stove League, no more owners’ meeting news or GMs’ meeting news. No more draft talk. Finally, the day is here!
For every team in Major League Baseball, Opening Day is like coming up out of the waters of baptism. Nothing you have ever done before matters. Every team is equal. Your record is clean, 0-0. A whole lifetime of a season before you, with 162 opportunities for victory or defeat waiting for you to seize them. Some teams will do well, because they planned to do well. Some teams will do well, despite themselves. Some teams will do poorly because they just aren’t very good. Some teams will do poorly because they don’t want to be very good. That, too, is like our post-conversion lives.
What would happen, though, if every team dressed out 25 guys who really wanted to be, hungered for, dreamt of being the best baseball team in major league history? Sounds great, right? But what if those same guys had NEVER thrown a baseball before? Never swung a bat? Never fielded a fly ball? What would be their chances of achieving their dream?
Would their chances increase if they all:
Dressed like Derek Jeter?
Squinted like Roger Clemens?
Adjusted their gloves like Nomar Garciaparra?
Waggled their bat like Gary Sheffield?
What if they had studied the rulebook, and knew every nuance of the infield fly rule? How to spot a balk? When to throw home, and when to hit which cutoff man? When to throw a fastball and when to throw Uncle Charlie? Would that increase their chances of being the best?
Why not? Because once the game starts, you can act like a big-leaguer all you want, but unless you know, through practice and effort and correct information, how to play baseball, you will fail. Period. If the greatest, most-knowledgeable hitter in baseball history failed 59.4% of the time in the last great hitting season ever, how will utter novices with nothing but good intentions fare?
How does this relate to Christianity, you ask? One becomes a baseball player of quality by focussed, intense, disciplined practice BEFORE one is tested in contests that matter. Only through such a disciplined way of life can one expect to succeed when success is necessary.
In the same way, Paul writes to the Ephesian brethren, “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Eph 2:10 NRSV) Every day offers new challenges, new contests of virtue and faith. Our King, the Perfect Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, lived a disciplined life of holiness and virtue. We who are called to “walk as he himself walked” must take on his way of life, characterized by simplicity and solitude, fasting and feeding on Scripture, service and celebration, communal worship and personal prayer. We too are expected to do great things in God’s kingdom!
The ninth inning is always close upon us. Are you training for victory? Will you be ready, will you be free, free from sin and distraction and worry and doubt, to do just the right thing when just the right thing is needed? Meditate on Hebrews 5:7 – 6:12, and let God’s Word remind you how important the quality of our life is. Play ball!
in HIS love,