Friday, June 2, 2017

Playing Little League Baseball With Jesus

When my son started playing baseball, I experienced my first Little League Baseball practice. Most of the young boys had at least played t-ball before, but a few had never played any form of baseball whatsoever. One of the things they practiced was fielding the ball once it was hit by the batter. Sometimes, the ball came at them so quickly, the best they could hope to do was get in place by the time the ball reached them. But other times, the ball moved so slowly that, if they stood and waited for the ball to reach them, the batter would have made it safely to first base with plenty of time to spare. On those slow balls, the coaches encouraged the boys to charge the ball, not to wait for it, but to run toward the ball and meet the ball on their own terms, rather than waiting for it and letting the game get away from them.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying and preparing to go to the Cross, the upcoming experience scared him to the point that he prayed, that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me" (Mark 14:35-36, HCSB). He prayed that prayer three times that night but each time concluded by asking the Father to carry out His will and not Jesus's own. And while Jesus was committed to carrying out the mission of the Cross, he did plead three times for the Father to come up with another plan. So, in some ways, it is a little surprising to read Jesus say, just a sort time later, "The time has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See — My betrayer is near” (Mark, 14:41-42, HCSB). Jesus didn't wait for Judas to get to him to be arrested. When the time came, Jesus said, "it's time. Let's go do this thing." Essentially, he decided to face what he feared head on and meet his arrest and crucifixion on his own terms. He didn't wait for the moment to overtake him. Jesus charged the ball.

We will all face things in life that will scare us to death. We might face a future without a spouse or a parent. We might be forced to endure something painful and heartbreaking. We might be forced to cope with a situation that seems far beyond our capabilities at the time. And when we face those moments, we also face a choice: how will we handle those difficulties? Will we simply stand back and allow those hardships and tragedies to overtake us and hope we're still in a position to deal with them? Or will we charge the ball? Will we meet those circumstances head on and on our own terms, in spite of the fact that we are scared to death?

Sometimes, the best we can do is get into position and brace ourselves for what's coming. But sometimes, waiting and bracing ourselves will make an already tragic situation worse. When those moments arrive, choose to face the situation head-on, taking inspiration from Jesus who, in spite of great fear over what was to come, stood up and went to meet his betrayer, charging the ball and facing the situation on his own terms.

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