Make Your Move

Make Your Move 
It was always my goal to be a present and involved father even though a career in the Air Force made it a challenge. As a result, I coached a number of my sons’ teams when they were in elementary school and I was mostly present otherwise. That is, like I said, if the Air Force didn’t have other plans for me. In any case, several years ago I had the privilege and challenge of coaching my youngest son’s t-ball team. I had previously played and coached baseball, basketball and football but never t-ball. These young people, boys and girls, were very young as you might imagine. I quickly learned that I had to use a limited and simple vocabulary, show them how at every step and be very patient. On top of that, I had to learn to exclusively focus on the positives and teach with encouraging words. With that, I had to carefully watch my facial expressions. In a nutshell, there was only one that was suitable for the circumstances. I learned to smile no matter what. That was an eye opening lesson to say the least. Why? Well, showing disappointment or frustration can quickly make about half the team cry. As you might imagine, that’s not a good plan. All in all, you could say I had to think through every move I made before I made it.
During one particular practice we were teaching the kids how to run the bases. At first, I made the mistake of assuming they all knew which base was first, second and so on. Well, they didn’t. Some but not all. So we started over and taught them the name of each base and how to run the bases. In essence, we told them what, told they why, showed them how, did it with them and let them do it. Needless to say, this drill consumed the entire practice. Just so you know, we were allotted 3, 1 hour practices prior to the first game. In any case, the following week, we were in our uniforms ready for the first game.
Now in case you didn’t know, we weren’t allowed to keep score, there were no winners or losers, and every child, eleven of them in all, got to hit each inning even if they didn’t play in the field. Woohoo! Okay, back to the first inning of our first game. It was controlled chaos at best as we moved through our batting order. Now it was time for batter seven in the order to take his position in the batter’s box. He was having trouble trying to hit the ball off the tee. For that matter, he wasn’t sure how to hold the bat. Yes, in case you’re wondering, we taught that in one of the practices as well. Nonetheless, we were smiling and giving encouragement. The fans were cheering. Along with that, players were wrestling in the dugout. Others were picking dandelions in the outfield and watching planes fly overhead. And then, it happened. He finally hit the ball off the tee. It was a slow roller toward first base. The fans were excited. His parents were crying. Not really. But, he was even more excited. In fact, he was so excited he ran to third base instead of first. He made his move but it was in the wrong direction.
With that experience and many more like it, the kids learned a lot that short season and I learned even more. In fact, if we’ll allow it, the game of t-ball can be a lesson about life. After all, we often face difficult circumstances like competition, opposition, division, disagreement and new experiences on a daily basis and we quickly find ourselves unsure of what to say or do or even how to feel. And so, we react sort of like a 5 year old running the bases in the wrong direction. In effect, we sometimes don’t even know we’re going the wrong way before we eventually suffer the embarrassment after realizing something is wrong. In fact, along life’s journey, we are consistently caught in situations where we have to make a move (observe, orient, decide, act) but we end up taking action before observing, orienting and deciding on the best course of action. As a result, we stand there in a cold sweat unsure and unprepared. Sometimes angry and frustrated and sometimes in fear. Now admit it. We’ve all been there and done that. So let’s go back in time and take a walk around the bases before you “make your move.”
This time, instead of t-ball, let’s fast forward to little league or beyond. As you may recall, we begin each game by checking our equipment and uniform. Similarly, in the game of life, before we respond to our circumstances, we test our feelings, motives, speech, actions and expected outcomes. We ask, do we want what God wants? As well, we ask, are we willing to do it His way? And then we wait for the pitcher to put the ball in play. That is our que to begin everything with prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Once we hit the ball, we sprint toward first base. First base is where we make sure our heart is in the right place. This is a prompt to examine ourselves against the Love of Christ (Matthew 22:36-40). Once we round first base, we are now headed toward second. This is a checkpoint for us to compare our attitude with the Attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). Once aligned with the Love of Christ and the Attitude of Christ, it’s now time to move over to third base. This reminds us to get in step with the Spirit of Christ (Galatians 5:22-24). As soon as we’ve touched third, it’s time to make the turn toward home. We started with prayer and tested ourselves and we’ve aligned ourselves with the Love of Christ, Attitude of Christ and the Spirit of Christ. But if we are going to touch all the bases, score the winning run, we must also be aligned with the Mission of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). If you notice, as we touch every base and move from base to base it’s all about our obedience to Christ.
Please imagine me smiling and encouraging you. You may never coach a t-ball team and have to learn to use a limited and simple vocabulary, show them how at every step and be very patient. But it is a good idea to learn to think through every move you make before you make it. Why do I say it’s a good idea? I’ve made that mistake and it’s costly. So stop your wrestling and take your eyes off your distractions. I know. You are facing life’s pressures and disappointments but with God’s help, you can get focused and aligned with God’s will and word. So no matter what you’re facing, if you stop and take a walk around the bases, after you test yourself and pray, you’ll be ready to “make your move.”  The right move. Don’t hide. Don’t just stand there. Don’t walk away. “Make your move” as you obey Christ.
A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene