I watched a baseball game today between my favorite team and one of my least favorites. I watched in glee as my team's pitcher struck out players, or as the fielders skillfully handled the balls that came their way.
I have always enjoyed watching the pitcher. But more than that, I have always enjoyed hitting a well-pitched ball. So did those 18 men I watched play. But more than once today the different pitchers would throw a very well-placed curve and strike out their opponent.
And so I was reminded that life can be like that; for I was watching that game from within the confines of a comfortable hospital room. Now I am here in North America so I can recruit men and women to help me in South America. I had all my game plan laid out long ago. I had my visits lined up. I knew how much time I had for each planned event, including down time with my two older daughters, my mother, and my siblings, as well as my in-laws. It was carefully planned.
Then came the curve. It was so skillfully pitched that I never saw it coming. So for four precious days I sat in one hospital room or another, seeking some way to remedy the problem that arose. The problem in and of itself is not germane to this discussion. Some of you have been thrown curves, too. You have problems that have sidelined your plans. You have been sent back to the dugout, wondering what in the name of all that is good happened.
If you are anything like I am, you wanted to kick the dirt and toss your bat into the proverbial stands. But you have to be careful doing that. You can hit someone who came to cheer you along. But don't we do it? Are we too often like the spoiled multi-millionaire ball players who hurl their bats into the stands when they are outwitted by a good pitcher? It's like they are screaming how unfair it was that someone dared throw them a curve.
But don't we do that? Don't we tend to bark at the ones who want to attempt to encourage us when we have been thrown a curve? Don't we cry that it is unfair? Someone last night told me how unfair life has been. I agree. Life is unfair.
It is unfair that Christ had to die in my place so that I could live with him at his place. It is unfair that he had to be separated from the Father because he was black with my sin. The stripes on his body were unfair. The beard and hair ripped from his face and head was something unfair. The crown of thorns. The unbearably heavy cross beam he was forced to carry. The spit. The ridicule. The humiliation of dying naked before men, women, and children. It was all unfair. But he did it to throw his own curve in the third inning.
It is unfair that death claims the young and old alike. I heard death cries while at that hospital. I heard disheartened families. I saw discouraged patients. I saw discouraged staff. I felt their load.
The thing that separates the best from the good is how the respond to the curve. Today I saw some smile and wait for the next pitch. I saw others leave in a huff when they struck out. I saw a few look at the pitcher with some due respect.
We need to respond well to the curves that come our way. We need to demonstrate more than a hint of godliness. We need to be examples of grace and lives molded by the Holy Spirit. We need to show our encouragers that we appreciate their encouragement.
Do not be deceived; life will throw you a curve. When it does, look well as to how you select the next pitch.
Oh, by the way, it's a new inning. I am back at homeplate, waiting for the next pitch.