My son, Kyle loves to play baseball. He is currently playing in Little League on the Colorado Rockies team. This team has had so many come-from-behind victories, we have somewhat of a reputation. We are currently in the tournament, which means that the season continues until we lose two games or win the tournament. Winning the tournament is probably not going to happen because there is a truly phenomenal team that plays with precision and has soundly beaten us every time we have played them. Tonight, we played another really great team. Three weeks ago, they were unbeaten and had beaten us soundly in our first face-off. The second time, however, we tied them when our catcher tagged the winning runner stealing home for the final out. We celebrated. And then we won on our third face off. So we came into this game with essentially a stalemate.
Now one of the reasons I believe in God is because He sometimes talks to me, though not in a physical voice. Usually it is in little nudges of thoughts that I could never in a million years think of myself. Tonight, as I was driving Kyle to practice before the game, a thought entered my head to pray with Kyle over the game (I know, if I was a REALLY good Christian, I would have been praying before every game. I still need God's grace). We talked about who REALLY decides the outcomes of games--us or God? I told Kyle that I believed that it is God who ultimately determines the outcomes of games.
"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD."
So we prayed. We prayed that the boys would play their best, that they would be safe and that, whatever the outcome, they would be satisfied with how they played. Now I don't think God really cares about the outcome of any games, because they are so transitory and, in the grand scheme of things, inconsequential. However, I do believe that He loves to remind us that He is there for us in little things as well as the big things and to provide concrete memorials of times when He showed us His love or His power or His grace so that later, when we are in a time of doubt, we can remember His faithfulness at that one time and remember that...
"I the LORD do not change...." --Malachi 3:6a.
And now back to the game....
It is the top of the fifth inning. The Rockies start the fifth inning in the hole 5-10. They are up to bat first as the home team. Under normal circumstances, the most a team can score in the inning is six runs. The umpire has called "final inning," which sets the following rule into play: Teams play and score until three outs are made. We get four runs before a player gets a second out. The kids in our bullpen start chanting: "Two-out rally, here we go." Seriously, so many times, whether it is our team or the opposing team, all the runs seems to happen after that second out is made. And it happens now. A new pitcher walks four kids in a row, driving us one point ahead. Then the next batter hits one that bounces over the pitcher's head AND over the second baseman's head and rolls way out into center field. All four runners score. Yay! We have it! It is in the bag! Or so we think. One of the parents remembers a rule that the inning has to finish before time is called at two hours from start time. If the game is called in the middle of an inning, the score from the previous inning is what is used for the final game results. So even if we score more runs, if we can't get the other team out in time, they win 10-5. Isn't THAT a crummy rule? Yes, I knew you would agree with me. I was very vocal in decrying that rule. At this point, someone has told the coaches, so that the next batter is instructed to swing at all pitches to strike out as quickly as possible. The top of the inning is over with only three to five minutes before the game will be called and all of the hard work of our boys will come to nothing.
How often has an inning lasted only three minutes? Hardly ever. And the other team worked very hard to be as slow as possible until the umpire started calling them out. Totally forgetting the prayer I prayed in the van, I stomped over to my friend, whose son had won his game 30 minutes ago, fuming at such a stupid rule. I am in the middle of explaining it when our team makes its first out on a weak grounder to first base. The player hit the ball on the first pitch. Less than a minute later, our team caught a fly ball hit by the second batter for the second out. Everyone holds their breath. The third batter connected on his first swing and hit it to the second baseman, who made a gentle throw to the first basemen for the third out. Everyone on the Rockies jump to their feet in astonishment and joy. The "impossible" had happened! I started shaking and crying and felt pretty ashamed of myself for the little temper tantrum I demonstrated in front of everyone and my pitiful memory.
Once again, I don't think God really cared who won the game. I don't think our team is any more deserving of winning the game than the other team. However, am pretty sure that God did it because He loves to see the impossible happen because it builds up our faith. Why do I think that? He gave a woman her first child when she was 90+ years old (Genesis 18, 21); He defeated a city with high, strong walls by having His people walk around singing worship songs (Joshua 6); He had 300 soldiers whose qualifications were that they scooped water to drink it from a pond beat a much bigger, stronger army by breaking pots, lighting torches, blowing horns and shouting (Judges 7); Heck, one time, He didn't even let His people do anything--He just had the invading army somehow go off the deep end and kill one another (2 Chronicles 14); The Bible is full of stories of God making the impossible happen. And He is still at work, whether it is dropping money in people's lap or making a determined atheist like C.S. Lewis into one of His children and one of the greatest apologists of the 20th century or having a little league team in a desert city come from behind and win against huge odds. We see difficult situations and, in our lack of faith, keep saying "Impossible!" and God turns to us and says, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
"Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”--Matthew 19:26
To God alone be the glory!