It’s been a little quiet in the last week. Well, in Cardinal country, that is. The rest of baseball is awash in mega-millions deals, trades being made, and rumors flying like snowflakes. However, with John Mozeliak doing most of his shopping early, there’s not much to discuss around the St. Louis hot stove.
So, with that in mind, I’m going to share something with you only tangentially related to baseball. Here in my town, we have four Methodist organizations. There’s the two churches (mine’s the small one), a college ministry, and The Crossing, a restaurant/coffeehouse that also has services (and is run by my church). This Advent, they decided to pick people from each place to write a devotion and bound them up for people to use during the days leading up to Christmas.
Today was my day. When I got the assignment, I really didn’t know what I was going to do. Then I decided to stick with that basic tenant of authoring any piece: write what you know. There’s little I do know, so I mixed some baseball in my religion (OK, sure, baseball’s awfully close to my religion anyway, but not quite) and produced the following. The verse that went along with it was Isaiah 11: 1-9 and the theme of the week, as you will see, was peace.
(Obviously, if this isn’t your cup of tea, you are free to move on. I hope that you’ll continue reading, though, and get something out of it even if it’s not the point I was intending.)
The batter stands in the box, staring at the pitcher. 40,000 fans are clamoring and the game is on the line. Yet after the game, the batter will have heard none of it. He will say it was just him and the pitcher in that moment. He may use the phrases “in the zone” or “focused”, but in reality what he is saying is that he was at peace.
At peace? In that bedlam? How is that possible?
It seems ironic that this season of peace is possibly the most unpeaceful time of our lives. There is a seemingly constant state of chaos as we search for gifts, we rush from party to service to school activities, and we clean and prepare for visitors. “Peace on earth” seems an idle phrase when there are ten people coming in an hour and the food is only half ready.
Peace? In that mayhem?
We often think of peace as the idyllic setting from today’s selection from Micah. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Micah 1:6, NIV) That is a state of being that we long for but many expect that it is impossible on this side of heaven.
And yet, there are those moments of peace that are granted to us as children of God. The reason the batter can drown out all that is going on in the game is that he is concentrating fully on the pitcher. The man with the ball has his complete attention and nothing is going to get in the way of that.
That’s the way it has to be for us as well. We have to find the time to put our focus completely on Christ, to block out the world for long enough that He is the only thing on our minds. These moments may not last a long time–an average major league at-bat lasts only a couple of minutes, to extend our baseball comparison–but they are vital for the well-being of our souls.
Find a time for an at bat with God today. Perhaps it is a moment between waking up and getting out of bed. Perhaps it is while you are wrapping those presents that you went to such pains to acquire. Perhaps it is the moments (or maybe just moment!) between turning out the light and falling asleep at the end of another day full of tumult. But find that time and focus on Him. Find the peace that He longs to give you, the peace that can recharge your batteries and get you through whatever comes next.
The Prince of Peace wants to share that with you. Will you let him?