Friday, October 7, 2011

Baseball Lessons Can Be Home Runs!

With world series drama unfolding, I realize there’s plenty of other drama playing on your life stage…mine too, but hang in there with me as I reflect on a fascinating game with so many apps! I was there this week…in St Louis for Game #4 of the NL playoffs. In anticipation of being there, after watching on TV and catching baseball on radio all season… my mind raced back to 2006.

We had World Series Tickets, because the Cards were down to the wire in that one. We were 10 rows up behind 1st base. These big games can’t be planned in advance, so you don’t know the exact date and time until the last minute. My speaking opportunities, on the other hand, ARE planned in advance with exact times and dates! I was excited about my first in person world series. I hoped against hope IF we got that far in the playoffs, it wouldn’t be a game played in STL on the night I was booked for an event.

But it wasn’t going to be that simple. Our seats were close enough to lipread Albert Pujols in conversation with Dave McKay, the first base coach! Flying back from the east coast, I faced a dilemma. I was lined up for a Friday night-all day Saturday retreat with Seminary wives, just outside STL. I hesitate to admit this, but I made frantic phone calls to see how I could work this out. Actually, to see how I could gracefully get OUT of the Friday night part of the weekend. I’m a woman and I have to use up my words, so I considered advice from strangers, mostly guys, who said, sure, the Sem wives would understand. You gotta GO. This is once in a lifetime! It’s weird, but I wanted to go to that game so much I could taste the peanuts. It was decision time. I decided. My airport advisers were convincing. I COULD go to the game. Someone else could cover for me that night and I’d be with the Sem wives the next day..all day. What Commandment would it break, after all? Opportunities come up!

I’d been asking for God’s input, of course, since He counts sparrows that fall from the sky and in the Greek that means He counts their take offs and landings! He was a bit silent on the issue, frankly. I mean, I didn’t get a call from the organizers to say, “Hey, BTW, if you and Rich have tickets to the game tonight, have at it! We’ll be fine.” For a second I thought, “Well, this is one of those grey areas, like coloring your hair or what car to buy. The women would have been ok and so would God who had a lot bigger things on His plate than whether I spoke to Sem wives or went to a world series game. Besides, there was a big push at that time for women to take care of themselves, as in tell the kids you’ll resurface in 30 minutes and take a bath with scented candles or plan a getaway now and then. So let me think, scented candles & bath, getaway with friends….World Series tickets and a magical chance at winning. Now I had to make the agonizing choice. If we didn’t use those tickets, someone else would.

As I drove into the parking area for the retreat in the woods, my car radio tuned in to the first inning, I learned that our tickets went to Cardinals 3rd baseman, Scott Rolen, for his friends & family. That was nice. But not nice enough to smother the grumbling rumbling inside of me. What good would I BE to these Sem wives from all around the country who were not distracted by the hype? Their concerns were over more “real life” events, like would their husbands pass Greek and Hebrew; when would he put down the books and re-enter the marriage, how would they pay back student loans; were they prepared for the real world; where would their “call” be and how would they like it? I sat in the woods listening on my radio and gradually, the excitement from inside the ballpark, 15 miles across the Mississippi River, seemed even further away as the Lord impressed on me the priceless opportunity right there in that back woods. Who needed cheering on more than THESE women, facing formidable unknowns and knowns?

I walked from the car, asking God for grace to put on the mind of Christ in that place. A few hours later, Friday night’s mission accomplished, I went back to the car radio just in time to hear the final inning. We won, on a sacrifice fly! I was elated and hopped out of the car to run in and tell the others. It turned out there WERE some fans inside after all! So I wasn’t the only one who “sacrificed” my own interests that night! I could almost hear the cheering inside the stadium float across the river and into the woods. I could see the distant sky light up with fireworks in celebration. And in the gentle fall breeze drifting through the trees, I think I heard a whisper, “You take care of my people and leave the final score up to me!” It turns out… Baseball LESSONS can be home runs, too!

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