Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lessons On The Baseball Diamond

In the summer I have a part time job umpiring baseball. I really enjoy it and it gets me some extra cash in the summer. But I'm going to explain one particular game that made me really hate my job at the time. 

I was working a nine year old game and it was the state tournament. The game went fine with no problems, until the end of the game, then the fireworks started. The home team was losing and it was the bottom of the fifth inning (normal game is 6 innings). Before the game I explained to the coaches at the pregame meeting that the time limit is no new inning after one hour and 40 minutes. I also explained that I would have a timer going. 

So at the end of the fifth inning, because time had expired by two minutes, I lifted up my hands and said, "Game".  Both coaches of the home team immediately came up to me and wanted an explanation. I simply said the time is up, please get your kids to line it up. However these coaches were having none of what I said, they thought for some reason that I was screwing them, and were calling for the tournament director. 

The tournament director could not do anything for them, so the head coach came up to me again and offered some really nice words that I will certainly not write out here. To be an umpire you must have thick skin, but what he said was impossible not to make me feel uneasy, and simply hurt. 

As I was heading to the parking lot, I was simply shocked. I couldn't believe what just happened. I've almost never seen a coach so angry. Of course, I thought to myself, "Did I do something wrong"? Looking back on it, I would have done a couple things differently. I would've ejected both coaches, and gone off the field immediately. But everything happened so fast, so I did not do what I should have.

As a Christian, I decided to write out a couple things to take away from this unfortunate incident on the baseball diamond. 

1) This incident shows the depravity of man.  Most of you are probably thinking, "People get this upset over a nine-year-old baseball game"? Yes people do. These coaches, kids, and parents have dedicated their whole summers to baseball. And at the state tournament its even more serious. However what happened that day was simply ugly. Nobody should ever act like that in any baseball game, at any level.  But as a Christian, I'm not really suprised. The Bible tells us what to expect from this world. I'm reminded of the apostle Paul's words in Romans 3, "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps in under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." That is what happened that day at the baseball diamond and we shouldn't be suprised when it happens again.

2) This incident reminds me of the grace of God. As I was reflecting more about this situation, I realized that the angry coach actually held up a mirror of myself. I am the one who at one time cursed God, I wanted my own way, I help up my finger at Christ, and wanted nothing to do with my Creator. But the Bible says, "that while we were still enemies Christ died for us" (Romans 6:10). This is amazing! I wanted to never see that coach again! And I still don't know what I will say to him if I do see him again. But do you see what Christ has done for sinners? It is simply amazing to meditate on the love of Christ for us.

3) This incident show me a better way. As I thought more on what happened that day, I came to the conclusion that I often stand up for myself. Why was I so concerned that a coach was yelling at me? Because I think I'm awesome. I think I deserve better, I think I should get treated fair. But, I thought, why am I not being slandered like this for Christ?!  The truth is being slandered for Christ is a far better way. This is the way to honor. First Peter 4:14 says, "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." What that coach said and did to me, should be what this world does to us. It should happen more often, and when it does start happening more often we'll know we are doing something right. I'm saddened when I don't stand up for Christ as I should, because he is so worthy of standing up for. 

I look at this event that God providentially brought to me to teach me these lessons. I certainly learned a lot about umpiring, but also what this means for my life as a Christian living in this world.

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