CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Did you know baseball is the first sport mentioned in the Bible?
A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them that, but it’s there, right in Genesis Chapter 1: “In the Big Inning …”
They usually walk away after that, but oh well.
In all honesty, there are a lot of lessons and parallels to be found between baseball and our faith. I would actually love to discuss all the parallels in detail, but I was told I would be taken off my column if I did so.
But if you couldn’t tell by the headline, we’re going to discuss one today, so here it goes.
Most people know who a third base coach is. They’re the ones standing by third base when their team is batting and directing base runners on what to do: if they should stop, keep going or even go back to where they were before. They are often the eyes and ears of the runner, who is focused on making it from one base to another without being tagged out and hurting the team.
Sometimes, the runner will “run past the stop sign” when the coach tells him to stop running and continue on to the next base. More often than not, the runner, who didn’t heed the word of the coach, is thrown out and costs his team dearly.
The runner’s journey around the baseball diamond can often be adventurous and can feature much back and forth at times. The third base coach’s job is to help clear up that confusion and give the runner directions on what to do in any given situation. If they need to go back, he will yell out to them, “Back, back, back!” To sprint to third base, “Third, third, third!” And so on.
The third base coach is, in some ways, the lifeline to the runner in the chaos of every play. He can see the entire play (where the fielders are positioned, where the ball is, etc.), but the runner can only see what’s in his sight line, usually the next base only.
Jesus should be the third base coach in our lives. When we are confused on where to go in life, he is the one that tells us if we should stop, go forward or even go back to where we used to be.
Some, or most of the time, we don’t listen to what he is trying to tell us and we run right through his “stop sign.” That usually doesn’t end well for us. Why would it? We don’t know the big picture. Only Jesus, the third base coach who sees the whole play, can see it, and he’s trying to tell us what to do. It’s our job to listen to him.
Other times, we can get sort of stuck in a discerning rut. We keep asking Jesus what we’re supposed to do but we’re not actually listening to what he is telling us. That doesn’t help us either. If a base runner just stands in between second and third base trying to decide whether to go back instead of looking at the third base coach for his direction, he’s going to be tagged, squelching his team’s rally and costing it a potential run.
When we do look to Jesus for direction, we are decidedly more successful than when we don’t.
If someone who is heavily-involved on campus is planning to join a new ministry, like many students here do, he or she has to decide whether to drop a previous ministry, not commit to this new ministry or move ahead without dropping a ministry.
This can be a hard decision to make because so many people have such an intense desire to serve that they want to do it all. I am definitely one of those people, so I know what it’s like.
However, if we listen to our third base coach, Jesus, he will tell us exactly what we should do. He won’t lead us astray. He won’t tell us to go back when we should go forward, or go forward if we should just stop where we are. He is the perfect third base coach because he has perfect judgment.
The wonderful thing about baseball is that there is no time limit. It can literally go on forever. Even more so, Jesus’ plan for us is infinite and he is always trying to direct us on the right path.
We should take care to listen more carefully to his direction so that we don’t get thrown out at home.