Saturday, July 15, 2023


I have a love/hate relationship with baseball.  I love the sport, but hate the fact that I cannot play it well. MLB looks for “5 tools” when identifying top baseball prospects: speed, power, contact hitting, fielding and arm strength.  If I’d been asked at the age of 10, how many of these tools I possessed I would have answered, “All Five!”  It soon became apparent however, that the convictions of my talents may have been greatly exaggerated...having none.

Despite my lack of talent, I would practice baseball for hours with my brothers between our obligatory chores, on our 3 acre “hobby farm.”  I believe that my dad considered it a hobby farm.  I, however, considered it a perpetual form of constant consequence.  Just like my own children today, I was overworked as a child.  You can ask my brothers they will certainly agree with me.  I would ask that you do not ask my father, he seems to believe that we were still underworked and did nothing but complain about our chores. Our chores included, running away from the geese, weeding the acre of potatoes by hand, weeding one million onions with a hoe and tending the pigs.  Have you ever tried watering pigs in -20 degree weather in an unheated barn?  It is a lot like creating an ice sculpture at the bottom of a frozen waterfall. 

During our rare moments of baseball practice, we would take turns batting, fielding and throwing.  When batting, the batter would throw the ball high into the air and wait for it to come back down before smashing it with a 32 inch Kirby Puckett Louisville Slugger that was too large for our small frames. While one was batting, others were fielding.  While fielding, I would dive at the balls, intentionally sliding in the grass trying to imitate the great Greg Gagne.  When I batted, the goal was to crush the ball as hard as I could over the imaginary fence, which inevitably left the ball lost in the tall weeds.  We would then spend countless hours feeding wood ticks while looking for the lost baseballs.

We also practiced our throwing and our pitching.  It quickly became evident that though I had a strong arm…accuracy was a tool that was left in the toolbox...or better yet...the store shelf.  I began throwing the ball at cans after beaning each of my siblings with bad pitches.  Unfortunately, the only “can” I ever did hit in practice was the Ameri“can”, that I called dad.

Playing baseball in school gym class was no better.  I played hard…but poorly.  I would run up to a fly ball only to have it sail over my head.  I would then turn and chase the missed ball down and throw the ball hard back into the field of play, only to either…sail it way over my target’s head, or 30 yards to the right…or both.  When batting, I would try and stretch a would-be single into a double…then a triple…then an in the park home run, not realizing that I had already been thrown out at first base. 

With all of this baseball experience I have learned something important.  Not all baseballs are the same.  We had a couple of good baseballs that were likely a Christmas gift from Santa, because dad would never have paid for them.  When we purchased our own baseballs, we would often buy cheap ones because expensive ones were far more disappointing to lose in the tall grass of the farm…and feeding pigs put very little money in our pockets. 

After a few crushing blows, the cheap baseballs would become deformed.  The covering would tear quickly and the orb of their originate form would begin to take the shape of an egg giving birth to an egg.

I disassembled some of these old worn-down baseballs, both good ones and cheap ones.  There was a notable difference on the inside.  The cheap balls were wound loose with few types of yarn, while the good balls were meticulously wound, tight with many yarns and with great precision.  There was a difference in the core as well.  The good baseballs had a solid cork core covered with layers of rubber, while the cheap balls had a variety of cores from solid rubber to soft rubber, or even plastic.

Despite the differences, it can be difficult to know which baseball is good and which is cheap.  It would take someone who knows a thing or two about baseballs to make that judgment.  A good judge knows which is good and which is not good.  The judge judges both…the good and the bad.  I think that is what Paul is revealing in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12.  Here we find the promised judgments of God coming into fruition.  God is not only judging…he is sanctifying.  Paul is revealing that the Thessalonian believers are holding their shape, despite being hammered again and again by the persecution of the baseball bat.  Yet, they would NOT be able to hold their shape if God was not doing the work on the inside…the sanctifying work, that He is faithful to do! God judges us on our choices, specifically our choice to put our trust in His Son Jesus.

May we come to see the good work that God is doing in those of us who have put our trust in Him and to trust His judgment for the good and the evil.

No comments:

Post a Comment