It’s a scary place to be: the pitcher’s mound. Especially for an eight year old.
At first windup, we celebrated her potential and her natural talent. In practice cages and warmup fields, we marveled at her improvement. We would almost get giddy with excitement, like parents watching their baby take her first steps.
But the moment she stepped onto the dusty, hot pitching mound, her first windup to an actual batter, we held our breath.
It was hard to read her expression. She seemed at ease. But maybe she was a little anxious.
She flipped the ball into the air before settling it into her glove. She lifted her glove, swung back, wound her arm like a clock, and threw with all her heart.
The ball left her hand like a bullet.
The batter shrieked in pain.
Every other pitch was wild; batters walked meekly to the plate, dodging and swinging like an out of step dance.
Our little pitcher looked defeated. She walked slowly toward the dugout, face flushed, head bent, wiping tears. This was not at all how we expected it to go. We cheered for her as she approached us sluggishly.
Several pep talks later, we were back at the practice fields, the pitching cages, and backyard drills.
She is a pitcher in training.
Aren’t we all?
I am very familiar with hits and misses. I’ve pitched a few wild balls.
I’m so thankful for my team. They didn’t refuse to step up to the plate for me to practice pitching. They hugged me and patted me on the back when I was feeling defeated. They still do.
We are a team. We are training for the big game.
One of my precious friends calls our lunch dates “lunch church.” I get so excited to see her. I pour out my heart to her like a waterfall. She catches every word I pitch with perfect patience and encouragement.
Pitchers get to bat, too. We have to catch; we have to listen. I hope to be a friend that will encourage my teammates to practice their faith, dare to walk on water, boldly share their testimonies, and strengthen their pitch. I hope I will encourage them and forgive them when they throw a wild pitch that strikes me right in the gut, knowing that I will need the same measure of mercy and forgiveness.
I have another friend that is a natural home run hitter. I can’t sit with her for any amount of time without cheering her home runs in the Lord. But, she tells of her strike outs, too. Her story sounds like most of ours. We are still in training.
This big game, this serious battle, this spiritual journey is not an easy win. We have to train. We need our team. God, in His great wisdom, has put our team together. Each one of us has a position to play. Let us cheer each other on, practice mercy, and rejoice when our teammate shines. We know that God has brought us together and equipped us to win. So, with joy and confidence, let’s fight to win!