This month we have been looking at elements of baseball that can wonderfully picture elements of the life of the Christ-follower. Today is no exception as we have been looking at how to build for success—and much of that building is rooted in wise preparation. In the major leagues, this process of preparation is both multifaceted and multilayered. It includes the front office, whose preparation involves securing the players who will position the team for success and releasing the players who do not fit the strategic plan. For the scouting department, it means studying the opposition to look for tendencies, weaknesses, and tips on how their squad can win. For the coaches, it includes the big-picture preparation of a game philosophy (little ball versus long ball) and the training of the team to execute that philosophy, as well as little-picture preparation for the particular team that will be their next opposition. It can even mean that the ground crew prepares the field differently to accommodate the approach the team is going to take. And, for the players, it involves conditioning, fielding drills, batting practice, studying tapes of opposing hitters or batters, and even the nature of the pregame meal. Everything is studied and scrutinized to make sure that to the most minute detail the preparations are in place to give the team the greatest opportunity for success. When I consider the degree to which baseball teams go to prepare for success, I marvel at how haphazard my own approach to living for Christ can often be. Sometimes I feel that I am coasting through life without intentionality or purpose, but I find my heart challenged and even rebuked by what I see in baseball. If these professionals will go to such extremes to prepare for success in something as (eternally) unimportant as a baseball game, why don’t I give myself to preparing fully and completely to live for Christ in the most intentional and Christ-honoring way? The prophet Micah gave us a path for wise preparation for living when he said, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8). All of the elements of this statement matter greatly, because the prophet says that this constitutes what is good in your walk with God.
  • Justice—something that we must prepare our hearts for in a world full of unfairness.
  • Mercy—a heart of compassion for those around us that does not necessarily come naturally to us.
  • Humility—the byproduct of living in the presence of a mighty, holy God.
How can we live lives of intentionality and purpose that bring honor to God and point people to the Savior? By preparing our hearts to display His justice, mercy, and greatness. In the final analysis, that is the measure of spiritual success.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain