July 15, 2015
On Monday night, we held our annual “Grace Night at the Ballpark.” It was a great time of reconnecting with friends and partners of the College. We had almost 200 guests, and praise God for the funds raised for student scholarships. It was a fun family time on a warm summer night in West Michigan – even though our Whitecaps Team did not win!
As a child, I loved playing all sports, but baseball — on the school grounds, in Little League, or simply playing with my buddies — was the biggest highlight for me. I loved fielding a ball and throwing out a runner at first (I played infield). But hitting was always such a blast—because you got into the on deck circle, and could swing around two bats, loosen up and get ready for your turn to “crack it” hard and long! I wasn’t known as a long ball hitter, but I made consistent contact and was fast on the base paths.
I have one team experience I will always remember. I was coming up to bat, my team was down by a couple of runs, the bases were loaded, and it was the bottom of the last inning. We had one out, and I was “working the full count” with three balls and two strikes. I stepped out of the box, knowing that this was a big moment, and I still can clearly recall my thoughts and the subsequent conversation I had with myself: “Kenny, you just need to watch the next pitch and don’t swing at ball 4, because if you walk, another runner will score, and you’ll be on base as well to score and help us win.” Then, my response: “No, Kenny, when you look for a walk, you sometimes let a marginal pitch go by and the ump could call a strike even when you think it isn’t and you’ll be out. The team could lose and you’ll look stupid like you’re too afraid to swing and can’t hit!” And then, “Kenny, this is a big moment and you can do it – get in there and when it comes, swing harder than you’ve ever done and knock it over the left fielder’s head and watch it roll all the way to the grade school while you run the bases! The worst thing would be a long fly, which allows the runner to tag up and advance.”
So, I swung the bat fiercely two more times then stepped into the box. The pitcher looked in, threw the ball, and I swung with all my might. I swung so hard, my eyes winced and mostly closed. The ball arrived at the plate — about six inches higher than my head — and I drilled myself into the ground with my mighty swing! I was out on strikes. What a disappointment!
Sometimes we try so hard, or “psych ourselves up” so much, that we forget the fundamentals. You know, those really important foundational things, like: “Keep your eye on the ball”. Life throws us so many “bad pitches” and “curve balls” that we cannot just chase anything – recreation, hobbies, a new job opportunity – or fill our life with new technologies. We must keep our eyes on the Lord, trust fully in His Word, and live according to Godly principles. That is what it means to stick with the fundamentals in life, with the result being seeing God’s hand of blessing. At Grace Christian University, we teach and instruct students in the Word of God: to know it and live it out, as well as teach it and minister to others. We work hard, but cannot “close our eyes” to God’s plan for us as we do so. Let’s focus on Him (Hebrews 12:1-3)!