Last Friday night, in the National League’s one-game wild card playoff, Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves were eliminated from the postseason by the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. The outcome, however, hinged heavily on one call by the left field foul line umpire who enforced the infield fly rule on a ball that landed harmlessly to the turf between two Cardinal defenders. Had the call not been made, the Braves would have had the bases loaded with only one out, and a chance to climb back into the game. Instead, they had two outs and the Cards got the next Braves’ batter out to end the threat, and, in some ways, the Braves’ season. Ever since, fans and pundits alike have debated whether the call was correct. Was it made in a timely way? Was it a proper application of a very fuzzy rule? In either case, right or wrong, it is hard to believe that the call was not a costly one for the Braves.
This is one of those areas where life and sports are so very similar. Sometimes, one decision can make a huge difference in the outcomes of our lives. That was certainly the case with King Saul in the Bible’s Old Testament. When the nation of Israel was under threat from a neighboring country, God gave specific instructions to Saul about how to deal with the threat, but he ignored the instructions and chose his own path. As a result, God confronted Saul through the prophet Samuel, who declared:
Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
Saul would eventually lose his throne because of this one costly decision. We can learn from that. Admittedly, we make dozens of decisions every day that are without consequence. We are also faced, however, with decisions where the outcomes can affect our lives and relationships from this day forward. The question is this: Will we rest in our own wisdom and ability or in the wisdom of God? As we face the challenging decisions of life, we would do well to remember the words of James:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).
As we seek to live in His wisdom, we can find the direction we need to make wiser choices.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain