Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sliding Into Home

I remember when I was young my mother signed me up for little league baseball. Before this, I had never played baseball before in my life—not even in the streets with my friends. So to be honest, I knew almost nothing about how the sport was played. However, I think there are two rules about baseball that every red-blooded American male knows by instinct:

1. Hit the ball with the bat as hard as you can, and;

2. Always slide into home base, because it looks cool!

It’s as if it’s in our DNA. It’s as if it were in my DNA. Because the first thing I could think about was re-enacting the scenes from those old Ty Cobb baseball cards where he’s sliding into home with his cleats barreling straight toward the catcher. I remember psyching myself up for my first day of practice. I wanted to impress my coach by being the next Ty Cobb. I was going to crush the ball allowing me to cruise past first, zip around second, and plow straight through the third baseman on my way to sliding into home.

Well, that was the plan anyway.

In truth, the day of my first practice I ignored my mother’s calls to come inside and get changed for practice until it was too late, so I had to go wearing the swimming trunks I wore swimming earlier in the afternoon with friends. However, I didn’t let this deter my plans. I stepped up nice and tight to the plate. I checked my grip on the bat. I watched the pitcher. I waited for the release, and then… THE HIT! I took off running past first, rounded second, touched third, and as I locked onto home base I realized my gut had just sank into the bottom of my ill-fitting cleats. The catcher was already standing in my preferred lane of travel, and he seemed to be waiting on little ole me.

I needed a change of plans.

So I tried to run around the catcher, which led to the me being chased by the catcher around the pitcher’s mound like two squirrel's chasing each other for an acorn before the umpire called me out. Yet, the truth be told, I chickened out of my slide into home. Seeing him stand in the way, I got worried I'd get scraped up, scratched up or possibly hurting another player. It was then that I realized that that’s exactly why Ty Cobb slid with his cleats facing up! To knock the ball out of the catcher’s glove, thereby giving him a chance to be called safe!

That night after the game, our coach made us practice sliding into home base with hopes of vanquishing those fears. But let me say unequivocally that I was 100% right to be afraid of those slides! That night I went home scraped up, scratched, and bloodied from not wearing my baseball uniform. But one thing was for sure, and that was that I had done it! And not only had I done it then, but I became very proficient in doing so! I could slide into any base—whether stolen, open, or blocked!

When I think about that day, I can’t help but think about my relationship with God. I started out knowing nothing about Him aside from what felt like was engrained into me. And just like I had a drive to impress my coaches with my ability to slide, I had an even bigger desire to impress my Heavenly Father by my desire to give him 100%.

On a much larger scale, the world is filled with people who are content to live their whole lives just walking around the bases, not caring if they get tagged out or not. They’ll continue to walk the bases anyway because what God wants them to do will continue to not matter to them. They won’t show up scraped up, scratched up, and bloodied. They won’t show up to practice with the team, because they’re the takers in life, and not the givers.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on strolling slowly up to the Pearly Gates to stand before God with my hands in my pockets looking tanned, rested, and untested. I plan on sliding up to my Heavenly Father with all my scrapes, scratches, and bleeding injuries—the proof that I lived God’s gift of life to it’s fullest. And those those scrapes and bruises? They may represent the painful parts, but they’re still a part of this amazing journey. They're still proof I lived life to its fullest. So, while I'm still gasping for oxygen, wearing a giant smile on my face, I would want to tell God He did a fantastic job creating this thing called “life,” and would want to thank Him for sending us Jesus that we were able to “have life and have it more abundantly!” (John 10:10)

So how will you approach your Master?

Scraped up, full of scratches, and lots of dirts on your face—yet with a huge grin shining through?

Or

Tanned, rested, and untested?