As a baseball fan I look forward to spring training. Note I said I was a fan, not a die hard fan. I am one of those fans who enjoys the game, the atmosphere of the ball park, the smell of hot dogs, and of course the selection of beverages.
There are those who come to the ball park with all the statistics on each ball player. They know the teams they have played for, their batting average, on base percentage and much more. And when the game starts they pull out the score card and log each inning with great precision. At the end of the day they pack up just like everyone else and go home either happy their team won or with hopes of a better outcome on another day.
In life we are all in spring training. We hope for the successes in our homes, our families, our careers, and life in general, however; no matter how good we are, no matter what our skill set might be, we cannot guarantee that we will win or have success. The only thing we know is that the game will be played and we are part of the game.
While our focus seems to be to improve and to move forward there will always be a goal ahead that we may never achieve in this temporal world. However there is a hope we have that will never leave us hopeless and that is our hope in God through Jesus Christ. It is the assurance we have of His great love for us even when we strike out, pop out, get thrown out while trying to reach an extra base. He is the one when we fail who He encourages us to keep going because He is with us.
In Nehemiah 9 we are reminded that God continues to shows us His mercies; Nehemiah 9:28 yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you rescued them according to your mercies.
We are all in spring training while we are here on earth. We are all learning and building on our skills. Each one of us has special skills that God has given us. As we grow in Christ He helps us to improve that skill and the gift God has given us. God will not let us fail rather He will strengthen us if we allow Him. As the Apostle wrote Philippians 1:6 “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” It is in spring training that we receive encouragement to press forward and to press onward. When we face an obstacle like a baseball player in a batting slump, we can go to scripture and seek God’s word. When we make an error on the field of life we can go to God and receive His forgiveness and mercy. Jeremiah reminds us in the book of Lamentations
Lamentations 3:22-23 22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (NRS)
How many time do we hear ourselves or someone around us say: “I can’t” or “I am not good enough.” Maybe you or someone you knows says “I don’t know enough to do that or teach that, or lead that”. Yet the Apostle Paul reminds us: “Colossians 3:16 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”
Spring training like life is about gaining the skills to do God’s work but we have to be willing to enter into the process to be able to achieve the skills and the confidence to do God’s work. God offers all of us a contract and we have the option of signing it or not. We may not know what each step of the path will be or where it will take us. We only have the assurance that God will be there, God will supply the skills and people to help along the way. Yes there are times we will struggle and like a baseball player ground out, fly out, get thrown out at a base, make an error or strike out. And there times we will contribute to the winning score. In all of this God will be with us when we “…press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 (NRS)