One year ago, the extent of my baseball knowledge was as follows:
There are four bases and the movie “The Final Season” is an underrated cinematic masterpiece (seriously, go watch it). But as I drove into a brand-new town where I knew absolutely no one, I saw Fox Cities Stadium out my car window and decided to become a fan of the class A Timber Rattlers.
Why? Well, truth be told, it seemed like something to do. At the time, I was not positive I was going to make any friends (apparently, we don’t grow out of that worry, it just no longer revolves around a cafeteria) and I figured going to a baseball game alone was a little better than sitting in my apartment alone.
Luckily, God had me covered on the friend front and soon enough the ever-patient Shannon Meeks and Erin Klein would be answering my baseball questions at many a game (many other baseball fans and friends deserve some recognition for answering my questions but Shan and Erin definitely got the brunt of them).
Now, as the above story testifies, I am the opposite of a baseball expert. But I do know a little bit about Jesus and His church, and I couldn’t stop seeing the comparisons. So here it goes. Hannah’s list of what baseball taught me about living a Christian life.
1. There’s always something you don’t know.
I’ve asked a lot of baseball questions. A lot. And most of them are pretty simple (listen, I’m a novice, cut me a break). But occasionally, I’ve had the pleasure of asking a question that stumps my baseball-savvy friends. In those moments, I had to keep asking (sometimes Google, mostly my dad) until I found the answer. The same thing happens in our faith. If you think you have every inch of God’s plan figured out, you’re not thinking hard enough. Questions aren’t a sign of stupidity, they’re a sign of someone who’s thinking. So, ask the faith questions. Even the simple ones. They’re important and they’re a sign that you’re using the brain God gave you.
2. Every batter strikes out. Even the best batters in baseball history have struck out before. One day a batter is at the top of his game, and the next game he can’t seem to get on plate. When this happens, devoted players don’t suddenly decide they hate baseball and give up. They talk to coaches and managers and figure out what they need to adjust. The same thing can happen in our faith life. One year, or month, or day you can feel totally firm in your faith walk and the next day you suddenly feel lost or unconnected. When this happens (and it will) don’t give up on God. Talk with a Pastor, DCE, or Christian friend. It may not be as simple as adjusting your swing, but God has placed those people in your life to help you through the tough times. Even if you’re not so sure why the times are tough to begin with.
3. It’s easy to be a fan when everyone is rooting for the same team.It’s not hard to be a Brewers fan when you live in Wisconsin. Every weekend in church there is someone sporting Brewers merchandise and all you have to do is mention the Brewers to start a conversation during baseball season.
Sure, they don’t always have a stellar season, but you’re definitely not alone in your enthusiasm or, in the tougher times, your despair. It’s a lot harder to be a fan of a team that everyone around you hates.
The same is true in our Christian life. We are absolutely blessed to live in a nation where Christians enjoy enormous privileges and freedoms, but there are still times when living a Christian life can make you feel very alone. That’s why God emphasizes the importance of community in Scripture. Church isn’t just another thing to do on Sundays, it’s a safe-haven when everyone else seems against you.
4. You can have all the baseball knowledge in the world and it won’t make you Babe Ruth. Now I am not saying knowledge is a bad thing (see point number 1). But one of the main differences between being a sports fan and being a Christian is that in sports it’s okay to just be a spectator.
There are tons of fans who could talk to you for hours about the mechanics of batting but, when it comes down to it, how many of them could hit a Nolan Ryan fastball? Not many. And that’s okay in baseball. But in our faith God calls us not just to have the knowledge, but to do something with it. We have to apply Biblical teachings in our life every day. Don’t know how? That’s where our Christian communities (read church) come into play once again. Talk to a leader, we’ll help you figure it out!
5. “The old-timers say that baseball is the only game where the objective is to get home, kid” – Coach Jim Van Scoyoc, The Final Season.
At the end of the day, every team is just trying to get players home. Isn’t that the truth behind our faith journey too?
Living a Christian life all stems from the knowledge that no matter how tough life is, at the end of it all we’re going home to be with God. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to end the game. Sure, you might make some errors along the way, but unlike baseball God isn’t marking them down. We have a God who has already won the game. And if heaven seems a long way off to you, have no fear, we have a temporary home here on Earth. Can you see where I ‘m going with this? That’s right --- your church family!
This isn’t a plea to fill our seats on Sunday mornings; it’s a reminder that you have a team that knows what it’s like to make a few mistakes. We’re still cheering you on and we’ll be your home until you reach your eternal reward.
So get home kid, Jesus is waiting for you.
Director of Christian Education
Avid, Yet Often Confused, Baseball Fan