“Brothers I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philipians 3:13-14)
As I’ve said before, and as you well know if we have ever talked for any span of time, I relate nearly everything to baseball. That is largely because the sport of baseball is one of the few things that has made an even larger impact on my life than the outdoors. After over 14 years, countless travel tournaments, playing for the better part of eight months out of some years, and two state championships, I’ve pretty much seen it all. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, along with every emotion in between, are nothing new to me when it comes to baseball.
My dad always said that football is the ultimate team game but baseball shows you more about an individual than any other sport. The main reason behind this? Baseball is a lot like life (which of course in my mind translates closely to “baseball is a lot like hunting”). Although the two have very little in common other than being outdoors and often very frustrating, both of these teach you how to respond to adversity more than any other potential lesson. Adversity is defined as “difficulties or misfortune,” however, in the words of Jason Anderson, “sometimes life punches you in the mouth, the true test of who you are is what you do to respond to it.” Like I said, baseball is a lot like life, sometimes it punches you in the face and this is exactly what happened to us one early April afternoon in my senior year of baseball.
Second Round of the State Playoffs, Game 3, winner moves on, loser goes home, and down 9-1 in the 5th inning. That was the scene at Shoals Christian on April 27, 2015. It felt like one of those freeze frame moments in a movie with me narrating: “Yep, that’s me. I bet you’re wondering how we ended up in this situation.” and truthfully so was I. After we finally put a few runs together that inning, Athens Bible changed pitchers and coach challenged us, asking us in a way only Coach Anderson can, if this is how we wanted to be remembered. We proceeded to rattle off 21 runs in the next 3 innings. Adversity hit us in the face and we responded.
Often times this seems to happen in the woods. There’s a giant buck coming through the woods, but he turns just short of your shooting lane and doesn’t give you a shot. Sometimes the ducks will circle but not commit into decoys. Turkeys will shut up while coming right at you while still just out of sight for seemingly no reason at all. Unfortunately for people like us, these things happen, and I know for me they happen all too often. So that begs the question, what can you do? You can change camouflage patterns, move stands, change your decoy spread, change your calling patterns, in all honesty you can change whatever you want with no guarantee of success.
So often I feel like this happens in our walk with Christ as well. You don’t get the job you prayed you would get or life happens and things aren’t good at home or a family member has health issues and it becomes so easy to get mad and apathetic towards Christ that we stray away and try to handle things on our own. What we don’t realize is that sometimes God’s “No’s” turn into the most beautiful “Yes” we could imagine. Sometimes God gives us battles we can’t handle to show his providence and grace through all things. The only thing you can truly control is your attitude and willingness to persevere through it Press on. Run the race. Run to Jesus.
“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2)