The Little League baseball season ended here in my hometown just before the Fourth of July. Our younger daughter’s family has been staying with us while they build a new house, and both Tommy and Sammy, my two youngest grandsons, love sports. Tommy’s team only won a few games but Sam was on a team that was more competitive. To add to the fun, his dad, Jonathan, coached the team. It was fun to hear the three of them discuss strategy and decide who would pitch and for how many pitches. (Little League has a pitch count rule.)
Most of those playing – in my sometimes humble opinion – will not play at the next level. But they loved putting on the uniform and playing to win. Each game was different; some games went well and others not so well. At that level you never know if the pitcher will throw strikes, if batters will not be afraid of the pitch and if fielders will catch the occasional pop-up!
One evening, after a not-so-good game, Jonathan came home talking about how some of the players just didn’t show up. He puts in many extra hours after work to help these kids with their game. I’ve been there as a coach and understood his frustration. After a few minutes of listening to Jon, I asked him if I could comment. He graciously said, “Go for it.”
I told him high school coaches have their 15-18-year-old players practicing two hours a day five days a week. They’ve selected the best players in the school to give them the greatest chance of winning. They repeat drills and practice hitting and pitching, hoping these teens develop muscle memory so they will perform well on game day. However, even though they practice way more than the kids on his Little League team, they don’t always do well.
Baseball is a game of speed, size, eye/hand coordination and baseball IQ, all tough for an 8-10 year old. So was Jonathan’s time as a coach useless? NO! Building into these kids is good and doing it well is even better.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Why do I tell you this? Because when we make a commitment we need to do our best! Everything is spiritual! However, sometimes as followers of Jesus we get caught up in fear and guilt. We feel we have to do everything perfectly, to excel in everything we do. We try to live exactly as the Bible teaches. That sounds honorable but it’s not realistic.
Each individual is given different talent and different ability to learn. We are all at different levels of faith. We still need to show up, do the best we can and put Jesus first in our everyday lives.
Sammy, Tommy and Jonathan will have many good memories of this past year – the uniforms, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the rainouts, the dirt and the dugout. They will talk about bad calls by the umpires, vocal fans and maybe even a few bonehead plays by teammates. But I bet the biggest thing they will remember is that they did it together – quality time doing something they all love.
I have a hunch this is what we should be remembering in our journey with Jesus.
Oh, one more memory: Jonathan, Sammy and the Cubs won the title this year.