“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
I was raised in the bleachers. My dad played ball, my brothers played ball, and I tried for 8 painful years to play softball but it turns out when you are afraid of the ball coming at you, you are not in the right sport. My brother is now a college coach and my dad plays for a travelling over 70 competitive softball team. I know the sport far better than I can play it. It is one of the things I have truly missed this summer of 2020. Not because I love watching the Tigers have yet another “this could be the year” season, but because of all the memories of family bleacher time it holds for me. The sound of the bat cracking, the dust of the ball field that sticks like glue to whatever shoes you dared to wear to the ball field, the weird sun tan lines. I love it all.
The boys are in their first machine pitch league this summer and I had the experience of sitting through one of their practices. So here, I sit, in fact, writing this devotion as I hear the coaches earnestly shout things like “throw to second, no, that’s first, no that’s the pitcher, there you go, second!” It’s comical and it takes saints to coach little league baseball. Truly. We should start naming little league teams after the saints and not MLB teams, because I think they’re already good to go; these little ball players could use all the help they can get. Grounders fly past the infielders as they shove dirt around with their special cleats. Batting practice is full of positive affirmations as the batter misses the first 12 pitches. I hear the coach say, “this is 100% improvement from last week!” I wonder what last week looked like.
I see a kid, clearly one of the stars, crank one out, a nice hard hit that likely would have been a double, but as the players all remembered at different times where in the field they were and where they were supposed to throw it to, the kid made his way all around the bases for an infield homer. I wondered again what the fielding looked like last week.
The practice brought me incredible joy because I know the college boys my brother coaches all started like this; tracing their name in the dirt with their cleats as balls rolled by them and swinging 20 times until they connected. This is a sport of faith. The assurance of things hoped for. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, full count, tie game, kind of feeling. The conviction of things not yet seen. When the batter knows this is going to connect and he will lead his team to victory. This sport and my faith go hand in hand, I guess for my family they have too. At least a pandemic can only take one of them from us.
Today, I think of this verse as I watch my son crouching in the dirt at shortstop picking at a weed as the batter steps to the plate. I see it in the eyes of other parents as their sons get up to practice batting, each with a hope that this next pitch will be the one that lights up their kids eyes when they hear the sound of the bat crack. This summer we likely won’t watch much baseball, but then again, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, is it not?
Topic: Baseball, faith, hope
Author: Darcy Crain