They began the game with three balls, two of which were used practice balls borrowed from the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, so by the third inning the balls were all too worn out to use. Since the home team was obligated to provide them, that was that. Brooklyn got an easy win.
I have watched baseball for a few years now. Even a late bloomer like me knows that those umpires toss out balls with the least little scuff mark on them, not counting the home runs and ground rule doubles that you lose into the stands, not to mention the free souvenirs tossed by generous outfielders several times an inning. Even I know you need more than three balls to play a full nine inning game.
All of which got me to wondering what we fail to supply while claiming to be Christians. The obvious one is showing up for class or a sermon without a Bible, but how many of us also try to get through life without opening one? How many of us try to fulfill our obligation to know the Word with a scanty chapter a day? How many of us think we can keep a viable relationship with our Creator on three one minute graces a day before meals? Sounds like starting a baseball game with three balls, two of which are in poor condition to begin with.
But let’s think for a minute about the supplies God furnishes and see if that doesn’t give us a few more clues. We are supposed to emulate our Father, after all.
A little searching turned up eight passages describing God as “abundant in lovingkindness.” Seven of those include the phrase, “slow to anger.” How many of us are more prone to bring just three balls of patience and forbearance to others, instead of an abundant enough supply to play through the whole game—and actually have leftovers? Are we afraid some of that patience may go to waste or just too chintzy to share?
Psalm 132:15 tells us that God will “abundantly bless” his people. Other passages talk about the abundance of rain and crops. They speak of God’s people being satisfied, not with scanty amounts, but “with fatness.” How would people describe what we give back to God, not just in the collection plate, but in our time, in our effort, in our generosity to others, and in the way we make decisions every day? Is God always on our minds, or simply when the cultural norms of the day dictate? Does our service to God always come first in any decision we make, even where we live, whom we marry, and where we spend our spare time? Or are we stingy with that too?
Isa 55:7 tells us God will “abundantly pardon.” Not just enough so we can squeak by, but enough that we can live without fear of judgment, 1 John 4:17,18. How do we pardon those who have wronged us? How can we even speak in the same terms when the things we become so upset about are usually petty annoyances, nothing even close to the despicable deeds we have done to this merciful God, who continually supplies the balls, who never runs out no matter how many we scuff up, or hit over the wall, or toss out to a bystander as if it were nothing?
What are you bringing to the ball game? We can never supply our own pardon, but we can sacrifice anything and everything as often as necessary and stand ready to give up even more to a Savior who came “that we may have life, and have it abundantly,” John 10:10.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21