Baseball Spiritual Lessons

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My daughter treated me to a baseball game for my birthday. As a preacher, I’m always watching out for illustrations. So when the pace got slow, my mind drifted off to the connection between Christian life and a baseball game. Several thoughts crossed my mind. Here are a few:

There is a reckoning. Every other game I know of has a definite time limit. Basketball has 4 quarters of 12 minutes each; football 4 quarters of 15 minutes; hockey 3 periods of 20 minutes; and soccer 2 halves of 45 minutes each. But not baseball, which has 9 innings of indefinite time. If it’s a draw at the end of 9 innings, they go into extra innings. The average game is about 3 hours, with the longest major league game at 25 innings lasting over 8 hours. But there is an end, a last out, and then the game is over. Whoever has more runs wins.

Life is like that. Some live only a very brief period, and some over a century! The average for many people is about 80 years. But whatever the age, there is a finality. The question is, what are you going to do with the time you have? What do you have to show for your life on earth?

No one is perfect. In baseball, the batters are the offense. The pitcher and the fielders are the defense. A good batter has a batting average (BA) of over 300, which means he gets 300 hits every 1000 times he is at bat, which also means he does not get a hit the other 700 times! A good pitcher has an earned-run average (ERA) of under 3, meaning he gives up 3 runs or less in a 9-inning game. As good as they are, few batters get a BA of over 400 over an entire season; and few pitchers get an ERA of under 2; the average being 4.5. No one has a career BA of 1000, or an ERA of 0. There is none in baseball history.

It’s the same with us. Compared to other people, we may do better in some areas, but fall short in others. But when compared to God’s standard of perfection required for heaven, every one of us fall short. All of us failed. None of us is perfect. No, not one. That’s why we need a Savior.

There are comebacks. Three weeks ago, our home team Toronto Blue Jays was a whopping 8 games out of first place in the American League East. Then they had an 11-game winning streak and climbed to 1/2 game over NY Yankees. Even though they fell back a bit, the season is not over. Comebacks are possible. It ain’t over till it’s over.

Life is the same. There are ups and there are downs. But so long as you get up where you fell down, you can start over again. There is repentance and there is forgiveness. You can rally and try again.

There are many other musings, but I don’t know much about baseball so I better stop here. The most exciting game I watched was when the Jays won the World Series in 1993. I can still remember Joe Carter dancing excitedly around the field. I hope they have the tenacity to go the distance again this season.

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