Sorry to those of you who had a cruddy Saturday morning, because it came and went with no blog update from me. I kinda knew what I was going to blog about, but after getting in late from the ballgame Friday night, then going running with my wife Saturday morning (pre-dawn, in the rain), we had to hustle to watch two soccer games and a tackle football game, as those two seasons wind down (gee, that’s so disappointing). So, here we are on Sunday night before I get to sit down and take a few moments to write. Turns out, something that got on my mind to write about late this week was tied into today’s morning sermon by Bro. Greg McFadden, so today that’s what you get.
I played baseball all the way up through a couple of years through my college career, before I decided that a constantly sore elbow and an 83 mph fastball (throwing downhill with a good wind behind me) weren’t going to lead to anything besides a more sore elbow (I would have Tommy John
surgery in 2005) and a much lower GPA. Besides a semi-successful (depending on your definition of the word) playing career, I was also a fan/student of the game from a young age. Christmas and birthday presents became books on baseball statistics and history.
I was born in 1978 which, other than the monumental day I was born, included the capture of Ted Bundy
, the first bomb sent out by Ted Kacynski, aka The Unabomber
, and the second-longest tenured pope in history, Pope John Paul II
, began his reign as the head of the Catholic Church. Despite being such a young man (for a commentary on whether or not I seem “young” to you, see the Scottish Invasion
from two weeks ago), I have an appreciation for the history of the game. I know all about why the Red Sox went 86 years between World Series titles
, Mazeroski’s famous shot
, . . . . OK, I could go on for days.
On top of both having this knowledge base and playing experience, I coached baseball for eight years at Humboldt High School. Through a series of things, mainly including having good kids that wanted to be successful and worked hard at it, we won 20 games for the first time in 2004, then did it every year until I stopped coaching after the 2009 season (and win 25+ each of the last three years), as well as advance to three regional tournaments. Again, mainly due to the fact that we had kids that came out and did whatever we asked for eight years, and not due to myself. But, I would think that we could reach a consensus that I can have a conversation about baseball with some level of intelligence.
I say all of that because it came to mind Friday night, as it has at least once before this fall, that there are a lot of people around us that have a lot of confidence in their knowledge of just whatever, even with much less experience that what I bored you with over the past couple of paragraphs. Our current head football coach, as many of you know, is Jeff Morris. Despite being born above the Mason-Dixon line, and being a lifelong Cubs fan, he has enjoyed a successful career thus far at Milan. He has won over 180 football games, two state titles, and four state runner-up trophies in his 18 years at the helm. I like football, watch college and NFL games on TV, root for the Vols and the Dolphins, and can even have a decent conversation about the game with whomever would like to engage. What I don’t do, and never have, is sit in the stands of a competitive-level football game, be it high school, college, or otherwise, and question what the coach is deciding to do. But, friends. . . I am in the minority.
I try not to sit in the stands too often. If you’re looking for me at home games, I am just about anywhere – between changing out paper towels in restrooms, to checking on our gate workers, to sitting in a chair on the track watching the game, to standing behind the team on the sidelines. But I do, on occasion, sit in the stands at away games, especially if Jaclyn and the kids accompany me. In doing so, I gain the pleasure of sitting near football experts regardless of where I decide to drop anchor. Some are dads of current players, some played football in high school, almost all are male, and a great number of them seem to know more than a coaching staff that has appeared in four of the past five state championship football games. Against Crockett County, as an example, we were the underdog, and rightfully so. We tried our best to establish a running attack, which was thwarted for the most part by a tough defense. The final result was a 33-16 win for Milan, but not before the expert section could yell how stupid our coaches were for running up the middle over and over, just before we rattled off two 30+ yard runs by doing what we had tried to do the entire game.
I guess the “why” they were yelling their expertise isn’t nearly as curious or debatable to me as the “why they were yelling”, if that makes sense. It happens in every sport – where people who may or may not have even played the sport, or have any comparable experience, put their two cents worth in out loud, often because their offspring is either playing or not playing enough. At the base of my curiosity here is the question in my head for these guys: how much do you really know? I am guessing that the answer is, you don’t know that much. Some of them – I know don’t know that much. And, since I know the coaches can’t hear you (those headsets actually work), you must be yelling to show me how much you know. Which, to me, is even sadder.
But, then here is where God attacked me this morning through Bro. Greg’s sermon. While I don’t yell at coaches, even on teams where my children are playing, I have found myself thinking to myself, on occasion, how much more I might know, especially when it comes to baseball. Things that we did when I coached worked – we focused on fundamentals, manufacturing runs, and lots of other boring stuff that only baseball nerds like myself care about. It’s a point of pride with me, even if I don’t yell stuff out. I am proud of my knowledge of the game of baseball. But, what about my knowledge about what God’s word says? Some of these guys in the stands are members of our local churches – even ministers and deacons. When do they yell out about what Christ did for us? When do I think with pride and satisfaction about how close my relationship with Christ has become? We are quick to start conversations with “did you see that game. . . ?”, but when do I start conversations with “I see God working in . . . ” or “God has spoken to me in my prayer life lately by. . . “?
I will ask the question that he asked in the midst of today’s sermon to end this week’s ramblings. Before I do, think about what in this world is important to you – it might be sports, it might be your career, it might be your children and their activities or their future. Having that thought in mind, are you ready for Christ to return in this moment? Before you finish reading this blog? Or do you think to yourself, but I would really like to achieve _______ first, or I want to see my kids grow up and play sports/finish school/etc? If so, where is our focus? Where does our joy reside?
We finished our worship time today with a great old spiritual, Give Me Jesus
. Click on that link and listen to the words. Believed to be written by slaves in the South at the turn of the 20th century, I couldn’t help while singing it this morning but think of how many things in my life – my kids, my job, my wife – that I have put in front of my walk with Christ.
While we wait on this adoption – no updates this week, by the way – I pray that I am reminded that Jesus is all that I need, and my relationship with him should be my point of pride. Not for others to marvel at, but for the Creator to take joy in.
I Timothy 6:7 – For we brought nothing into the world, and can take nothing out.