Monday, June 20, 2011

A Life Lesson From Turner Field

If you know me well, then you know that baseball is my favorite sport.  Well, this year my Father's Day present consisted of going to see my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, take on the Texas Rangers at Turner Field.  My wife and two oldest children went with me, along with three other friends of ours (one of whom was Michael Jarrell, a die-hard Rangers fan and the illustrator for Zero Hour).  In all, it was a fun-filled night with some of my favorite people on Earth, in one of my favorite places on Earth.  The only drawback was the final score, 6-2 in favor of Texas, but even that didn't interfere with my enjoyment.

As it happened, the game was the Major League debut for the Braves' starting pitcher that night, a young prospect named Randall Delgado.  Delgado had been called up from the Braves' Double-A team in Mississippi because their scheduled starter, Tommy Hanson, had shoulder tendinitis and could not pitch.  Consequently, a 21-year-old pitched his first game against a team that had made it to the World Series the previous year.

I can only imagine what must have been going through Delgado's mind.  No doubt he was excited, maybe even nervous.  This was his dream, or else he wouldn't have been playing pro ball in the first place.  I'm sure he imagined himself striking out on batter after another, mowing down Texas' lineup like an All-Star pitcher.  Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way for him.  He left the game after four innings, his team down 4-1 at that point.

What was impressive, however, was the way Delgado conducted himself in the face of disappointment.  He didn't stomp his feet, throw his equipment, or yell at his teammates (who certainly had their own part to play in the game's outcome).  In a postgame interview, the Braves' manager praised Delgado's poise and composure.  Simply put, he did not let adversity get the better of him.

What a lesson for us as Christians!  James 1:2-4 tells us, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  What that means is that adversity is the classroom in which we can learn the most.  When things are easy, then we aren't getting challenged.  We don't grow as much because we tend to think things are just fine.  It is when things aren't fine, when we need to put our faith in God and submit ourselves to His leadership, that we have the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth.

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis also alludes to the importance of perservance.  "[God] allows this disappointment to occur on the threshhold of every human endeavour...If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt."

Christian living is full of "dry spells."  So is writing.  But this is how God teaches us to perservere.  May we learn the lesson well.  Philippians 4:13.--SMS

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