It's baseball season around the Scheibner house! For me, that means grass stained knees, smelly cleats, and sweaty happy boys. I love baseball season!
It's been interesting to watch as my boys have progressed through the various levels of baseball. In the beginning, any ball thrown near home plate counted as a strike. At the next level, the strike zone was a little tighter, but every pitch was still nothing more than a fastball.(Relatively fast, anyway.) The boys both became very proficient at hitting those fastballs. They knew what to expect and they had great success. Now, however, the pitchers are getting better and better. More often than not, their fastballs are mixed in with curveballs. It is those curveballs that throw my batters off. They never know what to expect and the results are sometimes less than successful.
My life looks a great deal like those at-bats my boys are facing. When things go as I expect, when the pitches thrown to me are straight, I end my days feeling pretty successful. However, when life, or more specifically, God, throws me a curveball, too often I'm caught off guard and like my boys, the results can be less than successful.
Curveballs can be big or little. They can be short-term, or the precursor to long term consequences. Curveballs look like the flat tire on the way to work. Or, the ill child on a day that is scheduled full of busyness. Or, the relationship that has suddenly gone from wonderful to wounding. Curveballs strike at mymost precious heart idol; the idea that my days should go how I planned, according to my schedule, and with my precious to-do list intact. Curveballs show what's really going on in my heart. How so? Well, on days that everything goes my way, I can be pretty sweet. My words will uplift, instead of tear down. My countenance will be pleasant, instead of pouty. My actions towards others will help, instead of hurt. All in all, I can seem to be a pretty awesome wife, mother, and friend.
Watch out for those curveball days, though! Suddenly, I'm sharp-tongued, grumbling, and demanding. Nothing and noone in my life can live up to my expectations. I definitely wouldn't win Miss Congeniality on those curveball days. I'm fairly certain God throws me curveballs because He wants me to get a true picture of my heart. Life isn't all about having it my way. (What a surprise!) and curveballs help me to focus on what He considers eternally important; rather than what I consider temporally necessary.
I think the answer to hitting those curveballs with confidence is found back in your 3rd grade textbook. Do you remember back in elementary school when your teacher taught you the 5 W's and an H? I don't remember much about my early lessons, but for some reason those question words stuck with me. Who, what, when, where, why, and how are the questions we must ask when we encounter the various relationships, situations, and circumstances that make up our days. Although on the surface, and for many years, I treated all those questions as equally important, as I've considered my role as an Ambassador for Christ, one question word has risen to preeminence. That word is the word: Who? And the recognition of the importance of the Who word holds the key to swinging at curveballs with confidence.
When I'm facing a curveball type of day, I've realized that it is always the "Who" question that is really throwing me off. My plan, my schedule, and my priorities can all be thrown out of whack by a simple "Who" need. The real issue isn't what's happening; rather, it is my need to change the way I think. Let me illustrate:
The "Who"s in my life are always more important than what I need to get accomplished. The "Who"s in my life are of more value than when will this be over? The "Who"s in my life are more precious than where I need to go. The "Who"s in my life deserve my help; not a why did this happen? The "Who"s in my life supercede the how in the world will I get everything done?? The "Who"s deserve my time, care, compassion, and attention. Yes, there are places to go and things to get done, but they pale in importance to my ministry to the "Who"s God has entrusted to me.
Why are the "Who"s so important? It's simple really. I say that I desire to be like my Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus suffered, and bled, and died on the cross for those very "Who"s that are causing my curveballs. My plans, my schedule, my list of oh so important things to do are not eternal. The souls of the people that He brings into my life are not only eternal, but valuable and precious to Him. So, whether it's my husband, my children, the grumpy bank teller, or the much-pierced Starbucks barista, Jesus views them with compassion and they are His priority. Therefore, they must be my priority, as well.
Choosing the "Who"s won't always be an easy proposition. In fact, when my husband was pastoring and I was doing a lot of counseling, sometimes it seemed like I was living in Whoville! Who after Who battled for priority position. In a perfect world, we would only have one Who to deal with at a time. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. Sometimes, prioritizing one Who over another can lead to Who on Who violence! Or, worse yet, Who on You violence. That's okay! Keep your eyes on the One who brings the "Who"s to you in the first place and trust His direction.
The Who curveballs of life don't need to defeat us. All we need to do is change our stance, adjust our grip, and swing with God's glory in sight. Keep your eye on the Who-ball and as we focus on the "Who"s He brings our way, the other questions of life will fall into order and we'll learn to hit those curveballs out of the park! Soon, curveballs won't be an unexpected obstacle, but a regular part of our batting practice. No more strikeouts-Let's hit those curveballs with confidence!