Monday, June 21, 2010

At Bat

In baseball, batting puts us in a unique position. Although baseball is a team sport where members function interdependently, when I am up at bat, it is only me facing the next pitch. The moment I hit the ball, I’m back with the team, coordinating my efforts with any other member who is already on base. And if I score, it’s not for myself, but for the team.

Batting can be a metaphor for matters of the spirit. Some choices are mine alone to make. In the face of testing or temptation, I choose how I will respond. My friends can coach me or cheer me, but they can’t choose for me. God won’t choose for me and he won’t make me do what he wants, either.

Jesus had those occasions. When he was tempted in the desert, the moment of decision came when Satan offered him the world if only Jesus would bow down to him rather than God. Jesus told Satan to leave him because he would worship only God. Only after that bold statement did the angels come and minister to him.

In another moment, when his friends had fallen asleep, he prayed in the garden, “Father, let this cup pass from me… yet not my will but yours be done.” Afterwards, the angels came to him.

The worst moment must have been on the cross when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you left me all alone?”

That’s a good question. Why does God leave us alone at the most significant (and painful) moments? Please don’t quote to me the poem about footprints in the sand where God is carrying me. I think for that moment of testing, I really am alone. God waits on the other side of my decision.

I might do well, or I might fail and have to try again. Whatever direction I take, God will be with me. But I must make my choice first.

Which job will I take? Will I lie or tell the truth? Will I steal or do without? Will I respond angrily or gently? Will I be selfish or generous? These are the moments I am up to bat.

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