On Wednesday night my hitting and base running was pathetic. I was forced into action on our first Baptist softball team because we were short on players and we had one guy on the way. Mike Staron was caught up in traffic on Route 2 and wasn't going to make the start of the game. I started in his place to give us the full compliment of ten players.
I had not picked up a bat all season and had only thrown the ball around a few times. I was perfectly content to coach third base and play team cheerleader. Yet I have to confess that being one hit away from 400 for my FBC career was gnawing at me a little bit. As a result, shortly after the season began I consented to be a back up player in an emergency with the caveat that I might get that one hit sometime during the year.
Last night was my shot and I was a little excited. I tried to calm down when I reached the plate for the first time. A ball was the call on his first pitch. He followed that with a strike. On the third pitch I swung and sent the ball back up the middle. The shortstop fielded it and with a runner going from first to second he picked it up and flipped to second base for the force. Of course I didn't see that.
I hit the ball and took two steps out of the batter's box and then fall flat on my face. Yes, I fell down after taking two steps toward first base. The combination of my slick sneakers and a sandy baseline and "old guy" syndrome allowed me to put together a scene that could surely be in contention for the funniest home video awards if anyone had captured it on their camcorder.
Talk about embarrassment. To add insult to injury the second baseman completed his turn toward fist base and threw me out to complete a double play. Now here is the real wake up call in this situation. I have been playing softball for over thirty years. In that time I have been doubled up less than a half dozen times. I used to be pretty quick down the line. It seems as though someone had put lead in my pants this time around.
As if things couldn't get worse, I got up to bat a second time last night. I envisioned hitting the ball right back up the middle for a clean base hit. I swung at the first pitch and grounded into a second double play. Two times I had killed rallies for the team.
The good news is that Mike got to the game in the fourth inning and I came out of the game. We rallied to win the game 18-15 and my misadventures were just a foot note to a great evening. It got me thinking though. After I got home I wrote down a few lessons I had learned and I want to share them with you now.
1) If you want to play you really should practice before hand. I hadn't evened picked up a bat this year. Now wonder I couldn't perform on the field. The same is true with living the Christian life. It takes practice. You need to live it every day. You can't just turn it on and off.
2) If you want to compete you need to have the right equipment. I was playing in sneakers. If I had put on my cleats I would have had better footing in the soft earth. I hadn't come prepared to play. The same is true with our Christian walk. We need to have the whole armor of Christ if we want to get into the arena so we can be used by God. Regular Bible study, attendance at worship and a healthy prayer life will keep you from falling on your face.
3) Over time your role may change. Embrace the calling God gives you. I have done a good job coaching the third base this year and getting the guys fired up from the bench. I'm the number one cheerleader and I think that has contributed to our success. Years ago I was a spark plug on the field. The same is true in the church. Everything runs in cycles. You may not be called to do what you were doing ten years ago. Your experience and changing skills may open new doors to you. Go for it and embrace the new thing.
4) No one made fun of me when I fell as embarrassing as it might have been. They did exactly what I would have done if they had fallen. They encouraged me on. In the book of Proverbs it says "Cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back to you..." so if you want respect, give respect. If you want to be encouraged, give encouragement. The old adage is true: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When you do it, they will do it back to you.
5) There are life lessons in every experience we have. So instead of dwelling on the mistakes, look for the lessons. You may not be able to take the experiences back but you can certainly find ways to pass on what you learn. Then it too, will become a blessing instead of a bad memory.