Monday, August 31, 2009

Say what you couldn't/wouldn't say, and eventually, and maybe instantaneously, you will do what you couldn't/wouldn't do before. Making a statement of faith precedes an act of greatness.

A few years ago, I coached girl's softball and I drafted a girl that was new in our league. She was full of life, and she loved to emulate Babe Ruth, and before each pitch, would point her bat to the centerfield fence, and make a non verbal faith statement. Before every pitch she said what she could/would do, even following a swing and a miss. She was a joy to coach, and still brings joy to her family, friends and all who meet her. Opposing coaches and pitchers didn't like her, but her coach and team mates did. She was a spark plug, a catalyst that took the team up a notch. She rose to every challenge, and so I played on that in order to bring her to church and a relationship with God. Back then, I could outrun most of the girls. It was a 16U league. For fun, I would even turn around and run forwards sometimes. It really moved them to try harder when their 'old man' coach outran them running backwards. She was much faster than other girls I had coached, so I challenged the team to a foot race from home plate to the grass behind short stop. I challenged the team, that I would do whatever they wanted me to do if they could outrun me, and they would have to come to church three times if I outran them. She was the only one who took up the challenge. There were all kinds of good natured taunting, and after clearance from her mom and my wife on the agreement, with the rest of the team as the judges, we came to the agreement of three sprints, and whoever was best, would yield to the agreement. We toed the line, and she pointed to the finish line and made her faith statement. I toed the line, and made mine. "You will be coming to church three times".

It very much surprised her when I crossed the finish line first, which created a new round of good natured taunts and ribbing from her. She really did not believe what had just happened was possible. She again made her statement of faith, and I made mine as we toed the line again. This time, she finished first. Now, the team was into it. The parents were solidly pulling for me, and the girls were rallying around her. We took a few extra minutes to catch our breath, and as we toed the line, there was only focus. The statements had been made, the deal was sealed, and we both entered the zone. By grace through faith, I finished ahead of her, and all the girls were groaning, and all the parents were cheering. And, she was good to her word, and came to our youth group for three services and enjoyed every moment. We are still friends, and every time I see an emulation of Babe Ruth's faith statement before a pitch, I think of the Babe Ruth, I coached one fall season of 16 and under girl's softball.

An observation of some older people is that the older one becomes, the less of these sayings of faith occurs, and hence less doing of great deeds. Somewhere along life's journey we lose the fun of the faith life, and settle into the life that is, or the life that was, and have long since stopped making sometimes outrageous statements of faith, that are followed by great deeds.

I am blessed to be surrounded by children and youth, who serve as reverse mentors to me. They remind me to keep saying words of faith.

Let's point our bats at the centerfield fence this morning.

Mat 18:2 -4 Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him.

Then he said: I promise you this. If you don't change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


 

Lord, by faith in you, we overcome our spiritual opponents and encourage ourselves as well as our spiritual friends and family, by saying what we couldn't/wouldn't say before.

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