Stepping Up to the Plate

Read Mark 8:34-38

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

PlateWhen I was younger I was interested in various sports. Two of earlier sports I played were soccer and baseball. I wanted to be like all of the other kids and be good a playing sports. In fact, if I were to psychoanalyze myself, I would have to say that I was seeking recognition and validation from my peers, and people who were good at sports seemed to get plenty of that.

Baseball seemed like a good sport to play. It was considered an American pastime and they had all of those Baseball trading cards filled with sticks of bubble gum to lure kids into wanting to become a MLB star. So, naturally, I wanted to become a baseball player. I had heard stories of my uncle who had quite an arm and even pitched at the college level. My cousins played baseball and were quite good at it. So why not me?

I will never forget my first time at bat, when the ball came whizzing by me. It seemed so fast and so frightening. That thing was not soft, what if it hit me? I remember being filled with fear of being hit by that ball. I remember swinging half-heartedly because I was too terror-stricken that I might get hit.

Boy, did that turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I remember when that hard baseball came flying into my leg. Thwack!!! It stung something terribly. I remember the tears wanting to come out and my forcing them back in…after all, we’re told that big boys don’t cry…right? While I did finish out the season, as that was the rule my parents set before me anytime I signed up for something, that was my last season of baseball.

What would have happened had I sucked up the pain, pushed aside the fear, and gave baseball my all? Who really can tell. But I let the pain of the ball hitting me, and the fear that it would happen again, to keep me from giving it my all. I let fear and a little pain keep me from ever truly stepping up to the plate. Sure, I “stepped up to the plate”, but not really. The reality is that I always did it hesitatingly, and therefore, I never really stepped up to the plate at all.

While I am speaking in terms of baseball, I find that many people do this in there spiritual lives too. Many people simply do not step up to the plate because of one reason or the next. perhaps they have been burned before or they anticipate being burned. Perhaps they feel they’ve done their share and don’t need to step up any longer, or perhaps they always learned that ministry was “someone else’s call” and not theirs.

Whatever the reason, God is calling us to reevaluate ourselves and our committment to ministry. Are you stepping up to the plate, or is something holding you back. How far are you willing to go for your faith? How good is the news that you claim to believe in? Today’s challenge, and perhaps the challenge for this new year as a whole, is to step up to the plate, to rise up to the challenge, to answer YES to God’s call to be disciples (and even apostles) of the Good News…of God’s hope, healing, and wholeness. The new year is here, what is your response?

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” – Charles Stanley

PRAYER

Lord, I seek to renew and build upon my faith. Help me to see past my fears and doubts so that I may boldly step up to the plate and witness to your Good News of hope, healing and wholeness in all that I do. Amen.

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