Ballgame of Life

One of the things I like to do with my children is help them see beyond the events in life to the purpose meaning within it. I had not only a wonderful, fun opportunity to do that with my son at a recent baseball game, but we got to experience God's help when doing it!

We chose to go to this particular game on July 3rd with families from our Sunday School class because of the promised post-game Independence Day fireworks & and the lack of early-morning commitment on the next day. That means that the children (and my wife and I) could sleep in.

The Norfolk Tides, our local baseball team are a part of the New York Mets organization.

Even though our expectations were for the post-game show, the game itself was a thriller! The visiting team scored and took the lead 1-0. We then scored twice the next inning to take the lead 2-1, only to have them tie the game at 2 the following inning! An inning later they scored 3 runs to take the lead at 5-2, only to have us tie the score at 5. After a scoreless 9th inning with several runners on base in both halves, the score was tied 5-5.

Throughout the game I had tried to help my 10 year old son, who is a 5-year veteran of the Little League to see what was happening in the game. We talked about the 'why's' of what was going on: We discussed the meaning and purpose of strategies like "hit and run", "infield in at the corners", "sacrifice bunt", "sacrifice fly", "intentional walk" and more.

The main point of this story is what happened in the tenth inning. Since both teams would be looking for only one run, I took it as a chance to help my son see that games are won by teams, not by individual players. I explained what I thought the coaches were looking for from each batter in the top of the inning, and though they got a base runner to second base, they did not score.

So, the Tides needed only one run to win the game and start the Independence Day fireworks. It was getting very late, and with our daughter more than half asleep we were debating what to do if the game continued too long. We need not have worried!

Before I continue, let me remind everyone that I did not orchestrate what happened. I merely stated what each person should be trying to do. The fact that they came through and did it was something that I had no control over, but, as I have known for years and as my son experienced that night . . . we can only try to do our part, and someone else is in control. Now, back to the story.

As the first batter came to the plate, I told my son that this batter's job was to get on base, which he proceeded to do by getting a base on balls. My son and I agreed that the next batter's job was to advance the runner, even at the expense of being out. Sure enough, the sacrifice bunt we witnessed worked perfectly.

With a runner on second and one out, I told my son that this next batter had the toughest assignment: he needed to advance the runner without making an out. This would set up a sacrifice fly for the run to score. Well, this batter came through and hit a single into short right field.

With runners now on first and third with only one out, I told my son that the game was over because the next batter would only need to hit a "sacrifice fly" deep enough into the outfield and the fireworks would start minutes later. I must confess, that the throw from the leftfielder was great, and that the ball was not hit as deep as the coaches would have liked. The play at the plate was too close for anyone but the umpire to call, but when he showed "safe", the whole stadium exploded.

What a gift from God that evening was. My son and I had a great time, and as we discussed strategy, we had it unfold in front of us, executed flawlessly. I could not have made that happen, but I got what I wanted that night. Some other night we will go back with the goal of getting a ball!

When will you and I realize that our lives are choreographed like that inning was? God is in control, and all we need to do is to do the best we can with what we have, trying to live to what we believe God wants us to, and watching what happens, learning from our mistakes, growing in compassion and wisdom, and enjoying the life we are given and enjoying getting to know our God better and better every day!

Oh, the fireworks after the game were fantastic!