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Grace at the game

June 12, 2012

Have you ever been to a peewee league baseball game?  I am talking about a game played by kids 6 to 7 years old.  If you haven’t, it is quite a show.  Fly balls are generally caught only when the ball just happens to fall into the glove.  If the ball is thrown to a given fielder there is at least a 50-50 chance he will just duck.  When a fielder does pick up a batted ball he knows to throw it, but seldom where to throw it or how to throw it, so it is always an exciting experience to see where it goes.  Runners are the same, they often take off running on what seems to be a whim and just as often stand there like statues when the ball is hit.  I’d say close to 90% of the time a ball is hit it will whiz by kids who are standing there daydreaming.  Nevertheless, it always seems that kids are having a good time, unless of course, parents or coaches yell at them.  The game is just great fun to watch.

But more fun still is watching, or more accurately listening to, the adults in attendance.  On every play two or three coaches on each team start shouting instructions to the various players involved.  Almost every parent in attendance is watching his or her kid and they too begin to shout instructions to their sons and daughters; each intent on making sure their kid is not the one who does some of the funny things in the first paragraph.  The end result is a cacophony of well-meaning and basically good instructions flying through the air.  The odds of the kids understanding, let alone following, these instructions is near zero.

The interesting thing is that, when the game is over, you can seldom tell by looking at the two teams who won and who lost.  Both seem happy.  The game was an experience not a contest and now, since they are probably going to go out for ice cream, things are even better.

So, other than encouraging attendance at kids’ baseball games, what is my point?  I think that the Christian life for most evangelicals is a very similar experience.  We know that in our Christian walk we are like the kids.  We are well-meaning and doing something we really want to do and really want to enjoy.  But we are going to mess up more often than not.  And as we go, the air is filled with shouted well-meaning, good instructions.  “Read your Bible more!  Pray every day!  Serve the Lord!  Witness!  Get involved in missions!  Love your wives, submit to your husbands, obey your parents!  Be generous with your giving!  Trust the Lord!  Worship with a whole heart!  Discover your spiritual gifts!  Read this book/take this course/attend this seminar about discipleship/evangelism/parenting/marriage/living the Christian life!”  The result is a cacophony not unlike the peewee game.  Sadly, we’ve come to see that cacophony as the normal evangelical life.

Each kid in the game has the desire to be the best player he can be and the dream to be the best there is, to be the hero of the game.  And the same is true for each believer in Christ.  In neither case are we dealing with a lack of desire.  But we are weak.  Or at least I know I am.  And I don’t think a chorus of “ought to” shouts from the evangelical bleachers helps.  We need leaders who desire to get to know us, and to help us know Jesus.  We need friends who will walk with us on our journey.  We need people who will patiently and calmly teach us, often over and over, not just with shouted instructions but by modeling these behaviors for us.  We need people who are willing to let us make mistakes and go on loving us.  We need patience, we need time, we need calm and steady friends.  And we need a body of believers that values going out for ice cream after the game more than winning and losing.


From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Juliana permalink

    Love it! So well said and so true.

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