When my daughters were growing up, they enjoyed elementary T-ball and a brief stint with high school volleyball, but most of their activities revolved around music. Now that I have local grandsons, a whole new world has opened for me: sports. I admit it’s a big change from orchestras and recitals, but it’s been fun.

Baseball season is a mix of experiences for the boys with skill improvement, the excitement of scoring, and learning how to handle discouragement. From my perspective, I enjoy the game, especially when my grandson is participating, but also conversations with nearby parents and grandparents. And, when we sat under blankets and watched baseball on an unseasonably cold evening, the hot chocolate wasn’t so bad either. 😊 I admit I’m learning as I go,  but one of my biggest lessons came as an analogy when I saw more than baseball.

When one of the players steps up to the plate and waits for the pitch, with 100% predictability, a family member of that batter shouts, “Hit the ball, Kevin.” Every single time Kevin positions to hit, we hear a refrain from the bleachers, “Hit the ball, Kevin.”

I thought that hitting the ball was the batter’s motive. I’m sure Kevin wanted to hit the ball. He had walked up to the plate with purpose, bat in hand. I’m sure that was his goal. Maybe he needed a nudge (shout) of encouragement to boost his confidence. But maybe not. Did he sign up to simply be part of a team and enjoy friends? Did he not intend to follow through and hit the ball? Was the enthusiastic grandparent encouraging him to do more? To be all in?

So where is my analogy?

Do we approach those with purpose and determination?

Where’s our encouragement?

People in the Bible stepped up to the plate. When they met inconvenience and life interruptions, they chose to step up, focus, and hit the ball.

  • Abraham stepped up to the plate and in obedience, left the convenience and comfort of his home for a life of camping, not even knowing travel plans or destination. His blessing in tough situations was obedience and trust.
  • Mary stepped up to the plate when confronted with the opportunity to give birth to the Messiah. She acted willingly saying, “I am the Lord’s servant, be it unto me according to your word.”
  • Joseph, her betrothed, stepped up to the plate, and rather than disgrace her, planned to marry her, when God met him in a dream. Joseph listened, and followed through in obedience for the right reasons. Both took God at His word and followed truth, despite human appearances.
  • David stepped up to the plate and confronted Goliath, refusing to wear Saul’s armor but relied on God’s strength to defeat the giant. He approached his challenge “in the name of the Lord”.
  • Lydia stepped up to the plate and offered her home as temporary housing for Paul.  A prosperous entrepreneur, Lydia stood firm in her faith and took a professional and personal risk. She left a legacy of hospitality and evangelism. She knew her new faith brought her new life.
  • Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross at the insistence of Roman soldiers. His plans to participate in Passover were interrupted, yet he was given the greatest privilege of his life.

Scripture gives profound examples where God offers opportunities disguised as life interruptions, inconveniences, and impositions.  He does the same with us, inviting us to step up to the plate to exchange the uncomfortable for life transformation. Perhaps it comes as character development or enhancement. It could be learning to trust God rather than use human solutions. Perhaps we persevere toward the best with grace and God-confidence rather than choosing less and expedient. Or it comes as knowing when to stay still or move forward with confidence in who God is.

We face life experiences and seasons mixed with change, discouragement, waiting, and blessing. What happens when our perspective changes from inconvenience and interruption to opportunity?  Do we see an opportunity to trust God and grow as an example of God’s redeeming power and His surpassing grace?  Have you been a shout of encouragement or received one? 

Stepping up to the plate with purpose, focus, and then hitting the ball is an opportunity several times in a game. Yes, perseverance in tough situations and a shout of encouragement comes knowing obedience brings blessing:  “Hit the ball, Kevin.”


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