August 19, 2010
Karla and I had the distinct privilege of watching two of our sons (Luke and Benj) play together this year on the Earlham Varsity Baseball team. Luke made some awesome ninja-like catches in center field and Benj did a great job at catcher and playing third base. What a treat it was to watch them play ball together on the same team!
We had a pitcher on our team who averaged nearly four hits per game. That is, batters hit….not balls. Hitting batters is easy. Hitting pitches in competition is not. If it were, then most anyone could do it well. As it is, a great batting average is .400 which, in laymen’s terms, means that in six out of ten times at the plate, even a great batter does not get a hit.
Facing curve balls is perhaps the most difficult task of all because as they leave the pitcher’s arm and head toward the plate they normally appear as if they are going to hit the batter squarely on their body or head. It takes guts to stand firm in the batter’s box and not waver.
But normally, at just the last moment, a well thrown curve ball will make a sudden inward or outward movement that leaves even good batters frustrated and usually with one more strike than they had just one pitch earlier.
How do we respond when life throws us a curve ball? And by the word life, I mean the same thing as God’s Providence. “Life,” after all, is not some neutral, purposeless force out there. Romans 8:28 is always true, (which says that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes), but especially so when it doesn’t seem like it…feel like it…or smell like it.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”
J.I. Packer once said, “As I review God’s steering of my life, one thing that stands out is the element of surprise at all the crucial points. I was never expecting what came; I was always projecting something else.”
Dawson Trottman, the founder of Navigators once said, “If you can’t see very far ahead, go ahead as far as you can see.”
My friends, this is sound biblical counsel. If you can’t seem to see even your hand in front of your face for all the fog, you can still navigate with 100% assurance that you will arrive safely at your final destination. Why? Because in Christ you cannot lose even if you die or go through tremendous pain and suffering in this temporary existence.
Several hundred years ago Puritan Richard Sibbes once wrote:
“We need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds and not oaks.”
Rest in the Lord and quit resisting God’s plans to show Himself strong in your weakness. Stand firm in the batter’s box and do not spend hours anxiously worrying about getting nailed by a curve ball. Life has enough troubles of its own.
Now if you only knew what was just around the corner, you might have genuine cause for concern. That’s why Christians are called to trust in Jesus moment by moment in all the promises of God. That’s what faith is.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything (really everything? children, parents, problems, diseases, car malfunctions, etc. included?) by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God and guess what? The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Standing in the batter’s box with you all,
Pastor Mike Evans