Lessons From Little League
This year I again helped coach my son’s little league baseball team. We’ve been fortunate to have a group of boys that have been together each year for the last two to three years and because of that and their hard work they went undefeated in the regular season. Out of eighteen games there was only one team that was able to make it a close ball game and our boys pulled it out in the last inning. On one hand it was great to see them play so well and have such a great season. On the other hand, those that I was coaching with and I agreed that, the lack of some tough competition in the regular season could very well impact us in the post-season.
For the past few weeks we’ve been practicing hard getting them ready for the first All-Star tournament this summer. They had played well all season, they had practiced hard for weeks, and all came excited about their first tournament. I won’t break the two games they played down because this actually isn’t as much about baseball as it really is about some simple truths that I couldn’t help but think of in Scripture. But…in both games they quickly found out that these teams were not like the teams they had played all season. Both games that day had a rocky start and most of the player got rattled at some point. Each inning was back and forth and they had to fight hard the entire game.
There were three things that seemed to be said in almost every huddle between innings to the players in our effort to calm them down and help them play like we know they were capable of playing. As I reflected on those games and all the excitement, anxiety, and even frustrations at times I couldn’t help but think those words of encouragement really apply to our lives as Christians as well.
Let It Go – Each player seemed to get pretty rattled at some point because they made a mistake. Some of the mistakes were very uncharacteristic of them. Some were rattled because the other team was not letting up and scoring quite a few runs. With parents and grandparents watching, coaches giving instructions, etc. those boys are hard on themselves. When mistakes were made those shoulders drop and faces are down and they’re not focusing like they should. Our encouragement to them was let it go…forget about it and make the next play count. Paul was a man who, while all the other Apostles had reason to drop their shoulders and faces, Paul was one that because of his past could have really let it get to him. After talking about righteousness through faith he’d say “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:12-13 How often do we get really down on ourselves and our faith seems to waiver because we think of how unworthy we are? It’s one of Satan’s popular tools that he loves to use to discourage those from obeying the gospel and those who are Christians from living in righteousness. Like Paul we have to glory in God’s forgiveness and let it go.
Fight For One Another – Those parents and grandparents that I mentioned earlier of course aren’t just sitting there quietly watching the game but constantly cheering on each player. That’s what they’re supposed to do and we’re thankful for them doing that. Sometimes the pressure from parents gets a little too much and the players were conflicted between what their parents think they should be doing and what the coaches think. We had to remind them to fight for one another and focus on one another, not those in the crowd. We could talk for a long time about all the one another passages but let’s just use what Peter says in 1 Peter 4:10 – As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” When things are difficult in my life I need to be able to rely on others to help me through. When things are difficult I need to be able to relied upon to help my brothers and sisters through. Always providing encouragement, love, kindness, and counsel when needed.
Remember What You’ve Learned - Often when they got rattled they made mistakes very uncharacteristic of their knowledge and ability. They were losing focus and not thinking about everything we had practiced. The call was to simple remember what they had learned and use it. I thought about Paul reminding young Timothy of the very same thing in 2 Timothy 1 when he calls to memory the influence and teaching his mother and grandmother had on him and then in 2 Timothy 2 Paul reminds Timothy to remember what he had seen and heard in Paul. In times of distress or difficulty what better place to go then back to God’s word and remind ourselves of the truths God has given us to help us in every time of need. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” (2 Peter 1:3)