As Spring Training games began last week in Arizona and Florida, it won’t be long before sports enthusiasts celebrate Opening Day baseball in the Major Leagues. While winter continues to interrupt spring sports, those trapped inside are getting anxious for dryer and greener pastures. Nicknamed America’s favorite pastime, baseball seasons coincide with the start of warmer weather and conclude as fall descends upon this country. Before the final out is recorded, individuals will experience the smell of freshly cut grass, longer hours of daylight and blooming flowers that brighten up neighborhood landscapes.
I’ve spent more than 1/3 of my life playing and or coaching ball. In the days of my youth, I never fully enjoyed this game. Perfection, success and winning stifled my ability to appreciate 9 years of playing baseball. However, when I got a second chance through 7 years of highly competitive softball, I savored every moment on the field. I treated each at bat and play as if it was my last, flying, diving and sprinting around the bases. Although I still haven’t achieved the promise in John 10:10, I discovered the abundant life on a softball field, considering each obstacle a pure joy, James 1:2-4.
My last game on a baseball and softball diamond were nearly identical, reaching the championship. Despite playing a different position, a pop fly came my way, giving me an opportunity to secure the final out. I blew my first chance, getting lazy as the ball glanced off the edge of my glove. A comfortable margin postponed the inevitable victory, ending my baseball career on a good note. However, the second time I seized the moment, using 2 hands, squeezing my glove and embracing my teammates as God had chosen me to record the final out.
by Jay Mankus