Play Ball!

by Rob Dunne

“He will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12b.

After a brief hiatus from America’s favorite pastime, my parents asked me if I wanted to play senior league baseball. Truly, I had missed the distinct cracking sound of bat making contact with ball, the smell of freshly oiled mitts and the sight of chalky white lines dividing fair ball from out of bounds. Fond memories elicited an excited yes.

Unlike times past, I was required to try out for a team. Following a grueling afternoon of batting and fielding, I received a phone call. As fortune would have it, I was selected to play on the Phillies, the previous year’s champions. Would the team be good enough to repeat? One could only hope.

As the dog days of summer stretched in to fall, I found my excitement dwindling. Game after game, I rode the pine in the all too familiar dugout. On the rare occasion that I did get the nod to play, the pressure to perform was so great that I choked. Instead of an encouraging “nice try” the coach shouted the Lord’s name in vain followed immediately thereafter by my name.

At season’s end, there was a banquet. The Phillies were once again crowned champions. Each member of the team received a trophy. It was a hollow victory for me; I contributed little to nothing in obtaining it.

Recently, I was worshiping the Lord and He showed me a picture of a baseball. The stitching came undone and the core was exposed. What are you showing me Lord? “My son, you are on My team. Not only that, you get to play in the game!” Memories of my time on the Phillies flooded my mind. Those old feelings of rejection and inadequacy rapidly melted away.

In the kingdom of God, there is no rejection. We are accepted in the beloved. Regardless of our skills, talents and abilities, Papa encourages us to get in the game. He experiences great joy watching us give our best effort. Even when we fall short of the mark, He always responds with love. Failure is never a possibility as long as we try. Rather than a worthless trophy that will eventually rust or break, we will receive a crown that will never fade away.

Father, thank you for inviting us to play on your team. I thank you that there are no tryouts in your kingdom. With you, there is no fear of failure. We get to play in the game knowing that your response will always be one of pride, joy and love. You are and always will be a good, good Father.