Newsletter March 2008
When I was a boy, baseball was my sport. I didn’t just
have a mild appreciation for America’s game…I loved
it with a passion bordering on an obsession. I could tell you
the line ups for most of the American League teams, who was having
a good season or who was in a batting slump. I had a fair collection
of baseball cards with all the info about my heroes that came
in packs of bubble gum…but, mostly, I loved to play the
game. Our house was within eyesight of the local grade school
and if I saw anything that looked like a bunch of kids or adults
gathering for a pick-up game or a game of “work-up,”
I’d promise my folks anything they required if they’d
let me out of my chores at hand so I could go join in the fun.
Usually they’d give in and I’d fly across the vacant
lot to the school where we’d often play until the sun went
down. I even remember a few times when some of the older guys
pulled their cars around the field and turned on their headlights
so we could finish a close game. Every so often my childhood friend,
Clark Nesmith, and I have a few email exchanges about how great
it was growing up in our little town. Though Clark now lives in
Texas and I am way up here in the far flung reaches of the north,
with just a few keystrokes on the computer, either of us can immediately
trigger good memories for the other. I loved to watch Clark play…he
could run, throw, catch and hit with almost effortless grace.
I stayed active in the sport up until I was about forty. I played
little league, junior and senior high school level, intramural
college ball, and summer league ball on a city team that could
have held their own against the Oilers or one of the Anchorage
teams like the Bucs or Glacier Pilots. Then, for years I played
both slow and fast pitch versions of softball on church league
teams in Washington, Virginia and Alaska. It was on one of those
steamy hot and humid nights in the DC suburbs when I finally decided
it was time to hang up my cleats and derive my joy from watching
other’s play. I was playing first base when during a close
play I wound up getting kicked in the head and knocked silly.
The bad part was that I saw the runner’s foot coming and
my mind said, “duck” but my reaction time betrayed
me and “wham,” I saw stars. I managed to get myself
together to play the rest of the game (partly because we didn’t
have any extra guys for subs). Then, in the late innings, I was
on second base and my friend, Ed, was on first. The batter hit
a ball to deep left-center and we both took off for the plate
as fast as we could run. Rounding third base, I began to hear
footsteps behind me and sure enough, fleet-footed Ed was right
behind me and hollering at me to hurry up. To say that I had lost
a step or two of foot speed would probably be a world class understatement.
I reckon I had lost a whole flight of steps. So, I opted for retirement.
I still have my old glove someplace although our daughter, Michele’s,
dog found it one day and managed to eat the leather strings and
wrist strap off of it.
Now, I shared this little bit of nostalgic history from my past
with you for a reason. It has to do with WHY I enjoyed playing
ball so much. My dad was more into fishing and farming than baseball
and my brother was and probably still is a super tennis player.
So, it wasn’t just family tradition. I think the reason
is that I somehow picked up the truth that anything you do with
your whole heart, including baseball, is more fun than if you
just fiddle around at it. And, yes…the spiritual application
of this life lesson is that serving the Lord is also more fun,
exciting and fulfilling if you do it with your whole heart. God
loves whole heartedness. Half heartedness bores Him sick. So,
if you take stock of your passion level for serving God and find
you are doing it with a lazy or half-hearted effort…go back
to spring training and get in love with Jesus all over again.
Then, if you see Him gathering a few friends together to do something
of eternal value, grab your glove and join His team. His team
has the longest winning streak in history.