By Kevin Van Wyk
Welcome back competitive sports season! We’ve been restricted for a long time, and clearly many are thrilled to get out and watch or play ball, and soccer, and tennis, and golf… Overwhelmingly, there seems to be a joyful spirit at the baseball fields. We’re just grateful to be among friends and family. While I’ve not made it out a lot, it seems there is a bit less competitive anxiety right now, but I don’t see that lasting.
As the season moves forward, the stress rises. Expectations begin to swell and hopes of a trophy begin to gleam in our eyes. Our ability to overlook the bad call at home or the blunder at first base gets harder and harder.
I remember the parents of Ian’s 10U travel team being so frustrated with kids crying during the game. Tears from striking out. Tears from bobbling a ball in the field. These kids really wanted to win... or maybe they just felt the parent’s desire to win. Either way, they could not handle it and emotions too often undermined their efforts.
I remember losing it myself and shouting some obscenity during a tennis match. I was so frustrated with my own play; it was burning me up inside and eventually erupted over the court and spewed on to my opponents. The sad thing was it's not like I was playing a varsity match for the high school. It was doubles with my parents and brother. We were out there purely to have fun, but it became way too important for me to win.
Paul challenged Titus to teach the people of Crete to be self-controlled. Five times, Paul calls believers to control themselves, to not let their emotions lead them to sin. This is so much more difficult than we tend to realize, but it is also essential to our witness.
Paul urged the church in Colosse, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (Col. 3:23). So, our heart and emotions should be involved in leading us to do good and that means rejoicing even in suffering.
I’ve seen this particularly in one coach from our church who keeps smiling and encouraging his players. He broke the tension and stress with joy and peace. We need more of this in baseball and all of life.
When it comes to big league baseball, Ian recently introduced me to one guy who knows how to have fun with the game. Adrian Beltre is known for making the game fun. Whether it’s putting his helmet on backwards, going into other’s territory and pretending to catch the ball, or some goofy base running, he makes it fun. You might enjoy watching some highlights. www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nai3gTvVUI
I don’t know where Adrian stands regarding Jesus, but he certainly challenges me to take a more light-hearted view on sports and to enjoy the moment more. I’m sure some are critical of his behavior and a high school ball player would probably get benched for messing around if he acted this way, but there is a lesson for all of us in this.
So, here’s my prayer as we head to the ball diamond, may “grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (1 Peter 1:2) May we be filled with the Spirit of God that grace, peace and joy flow from our hearts into our words and actions.
PRACTICAL ACTION: I urge you to saturate your mind with God’s Word this summer. Re-read Titus. Dig into 1 Peter and 2 Peter as Doug teaches on those letters and read through the letter from John as I will hit those this summer. Let God’s word renew your spirit.
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