Bottom of the seventh. Bases Loaded. Two outs.
Is there any more pressure packed situation in all of sports? Perhaps lining up for a game winning/tying field goal comes close, but the guys that are trying to stop you don't normally play that big of a part in the sucess or failure. Either the kicker is true or he chokes.
So there I was Monday night, my team down by a run and the game on the line. Adding to the pressure was the fact that I booted an easy line drive in the sixth inning which led to a run. The run we were now losing by.
When we came in to bat that inning I just had this feeling that I was going to come up to bat with the game on the line. It wasn't a hope really, somehow I just knew that it was going to happen. Don't get me wrong, coaching third base through 8 batters was excruciating. I was spared no angst at all. Then when I was standing in the batters box watching our Associate Pastor bat, I kept thinking to myself "Okay Pastor David, I know I can do this---but if you want to get the hit and be the hero, that's fine with me too."
The funny thing is that he told me later that he was in the batters box thinking that if he could draw a walk then that was what he was going to do because he knew I could get the hit and he hadn't hit the ball well that night.
I knew I could do it. That's what I kept thinking about. It's softball. The guy tosses you the ball underhand. I've been doing it for more than 25 years. Still, there's always the chance that someboy will make a great play.
But they didn't.
I walked to the box and I looked out at the pitcher and I literally saw fear in his eyes. It was a tough inning for him, he was having a hard time finding the plate and we had some calls go our way finally after having them go against us all game long. I felt compassion for him, I really did.
His first pitch was about shoulder high and I just smacked it solidly into center field. There was never any doubt after that. Our fastest two runners were on second and third and they each scored easily. As i rounded first base and looked out towards center field I felt...nothing really.
I was happy that we had won, and I could hear the guys going crazy, but I was just somewhere else at that moment. I also had been so sure that I could get the job done that the fact that I had done it didn't come as much of a surprise to me. I was prepared for the job.
Almost immediately the contrast between this year and last year hit me. Actually, it's more like the contrast between this year and all of the years that have come before it. Last year our team struggled to what I think was a 5-9 record, and as the story goes, I nearly died halfway through the season. I never felt comfortable as a coach. I always felt like a fraud because my personal life and my testimony were in shambles.
This year all that is changed. This year I still have the same emotional aches and pains that I have always have, but I have a commitment to God to be obedient, a faith that He is in control of my life and most impotantly a trust that He loves me and cares for me. This year, as on Monday night, when I "walk to the plate" I am prepared to succeed. When God lines me up in the batters box with the game on the line, He and I both know that I can get the job done.
I can't tell you what kind of peace that brings to my life. I can't begin to explain what a comfort it is that he is watching over my life every day. Finally, I wish that you would all know the joy that I know because one day this world will all go away and a new perfect world will take it's place. One day I will spend all of my time with Jesus, and because God is love, I will never know better moments that those.