Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Devotion 9.1.16

Today marks that point in time, called the final month of baseball, in which anything can happen.  Teams solidly in first place find themselves by mid-month praying for a break, and teams who've lagged behind most of the season find that gasp, deep from within, to put together a streak and race toward a playoff berth.  All the smack talk during the season was just that, talk, because now it all begins to really mean something.

The three teams I follow, the Cards, the Astros, and the Rangers, now see the finish line.  Two have clear playoff potential, and the Astros have put together a winning run the past 15 games.  Yet they lag behind a chance for a Wild Card spot by a couple of games behind Baltimore and Boston, and St. Louis is just one loss away from tossing their bid for a Wild Card away.  Texas looks solid, barring a ballpark collapse of epic proportions (like a ballpark collapse), but they've shown that ability to have that collapse during the playoffs (including a World Series).

Baseball is that sport of attrition.  You may field talent, but the season is long.  Half of the starting pitching could sit the bench before year's end due to injury.  Pitchers can also lose form and get into a funk that causes them to lose their "mojo."  That can happen to players as well, possibly the most famous was Chuck Knoblauch, formerly of the Twins and then the Yankees, who had the physical skills, but his mind lost its ability to believe he could play the game.  Baseball, as Yogi once famously said, is 90% mental and the other half is physical.  So, after five months, baseball now enters its final stretch, with the mental part bearing down as the wear and tear of a full season begins to take its toll. 

Being a follower of Christ is not always easy either.  It's a faith of attrition with our physical and mental devotion to Christ being tested over a lifetime.  Prayer life strong some days, and perfectly weak during some stretches.  In the Word at times, and not in the Word at times.  Yielding to the ways of this world and putting other priorities in front of Christ, like baseball, and then not yielding and having the strength through the Spirit to remain faithful another day because of Christ's grace.

Paul acknowledges as much in his passage in Romans 5:  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Paul knew that endurance was necessary in this race.  Pray that Christ be with us in the good and the bad and that He send his Spirit to strengthen us when we are weak and feeble and to humble us when we are strong so as not to boast.

Hope Men's Ministry

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