The beginning of softball season is always an exciting time around our house, but in recreation league, there is always a bit of uncertainty mixed in as well. Unlike school-based or travel sport’s teams where the players and coaches stay fairly consistent from year to year, in a Rec League the kids are assigned in an almost random fashion creating completely different teams with different coaches every season.
Of course there are always many familiar faces, but the way the the groupings coalesce can vary widely. That means, sometimes you are placed on a team with powerful and talented kids that immediately gel together, and sometimes you aren’t.
This fall, we aren’t.
We’ve only played a few games so far, but most of them have ended with our team being on the wrong side of a fairly lopsided score. But this season I don’t think it’s do to a lack of athletic ability since we have a number of experienced hitters and fielders throughout the line-up that should have produced a strong, consistent contending force. But, as I sat through a double header last weekend, I noticed the attitude of a significant number of the players. Once our opponents got a few runs ahead, the normally crisp and sharp infielders stopped trying so hard, which of course, led to more mistakes and more runs for the other team. By the final inning, only a few of the kids were even trying very much at all. It wasn’t because they lacked talent. It was because they quickly lost heart.
You know, the world is pretty rough and relentless sometimes. One hit after another can put you down so quickly that it just doesn’t seem like there is any way to come out on top. In those times, it can be really hard to keep swinging hard. “What’s the point?” we wonder. “There’s no way to win, so why keep trying?”
The writer of Hebrews addresses this same impulse that all too often causes believers to lose hope and give up. Chapter 12:2-3 says “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus voluntarily “endured the cross” so that we could be saved from the penalty and power of sin. And when we are tempted to give up and stop trying, that alone should serve as a constant, immovable, and unalterable testament to His enduring love and care. (Rom. 5:8)
While there will always be a temptation to look at the scoreboard of life and lose heart, scripture urges us to resist that pull and instead “fix our eyes on Jesus” and allow His love to spur us on even when the odds seem overwhelmingly against us. With that as our focus, our goal no longer centers on the perceived final score, but instead becomes a motivation to continue to ‘play well’ so that Jesus can draw others to His life through us.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…