There’s nothing like good ‘ol church league softball to get the blood flowing and sweat dripping on hot summer night in July, amiright? Softball is a thing people do. Some people do it well, while others just try to fake being an adequate Softballman™ as long they can, until they can’t. I happen to be one of those guys that wears the baseball pants, gets really dirty, gets on base with a lot of swinging-bunts, prays nobody hits it to 2nd base, and yells encouraging quips such as,
“Hit the ball!”
“Let’s get an out boys!”
“Great pitch, pal. Do it again!”
“Two outs! …
“Whoops, one out!”
So softball is a wonderful time for me to “set my affections on things above, not on things of this earth.” I’m constantly telling myself, “It’s okay, broseph. Paul resolved to know nothing but Christ crucified… so who cares if you stink at this game. You have the most precious Reward a human will ever receive in Jesus.”
When you think about it, those truths are pretty easy for a guy to get to when you’re so bad at something, your 4-year-old asks if he can get a shot out in right field in your stead. But what about those guys that know the game so well, and everything comes so naturally?
If you’re like me, who has a sin nature that hates and rebels against God (it’s so bad that it had to be put to death on the cross) you think stuff like (I’d never say this out loud, just in a dumb blog post), “Look at how spiritual I am. I’m still playing this game I’m bad at, and simply for the glory of God!”
Ben went up to bat in a crucial spot. 1 out, a man on first and third, and we’re down 10-19 (yeah, it wasn’t really close, but stick with me here). This guy lives and breathes baseball/softball, and has been ripping the ball all summer. Well, he struck out looking.
He walked back to the dugout visibly frustrated, and placed his bat on the bat-rack with some gusto, knocking the whole row of bats on the cement steps, causing quite a racket. He quietly picked them up, sat down, and reflected on his missed opportunity.
Game over. We promptly received an “L.” It was about 9:30, and we were all tired and went out separate ways. Later, me and few other guys get a group text that says this:
Sorry about tonight guys. I let my competitiveness get the better of me tonight and got angry at my last strikeout. It was uncalled for. I need to remind myself that it is just a game we are playing for fun…
And then my favorite part,
Just a solid reminder of how much I need Christ.
What sensitivity to the conviction of the Holy Spirit! What a remarkable example of real, Godly repentance that leads to life! Here is a man charged up with testosterone and competitive juice, who had been crushed by the reality of God and His holiness and his desperate need for the cross every moment . Please don’t see this as a small thing, as I am tempted to do — this is a mighty act of grace from God to show Ben what he’s made of in his Adamic nature, and who Christ is! Unconfessed sin hardens us and makes our hearts cold towards God and one another, but walking in the light, as he is in the light, is a life of unfathomable joy and peace.
That dude went home learning and gaining more of Christ than I had tonight, and by his willingness to confess his sin to us, as we’re commanded to do in James 5:16, we all got to enjoy a taste of the breadth, width, heighth, and depth of God’s love for us in His Son.