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“Play Ball!” January 19, 2009

Posted by Michelle Knoll in Prayers.
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There is a movie that came out a long time ago, about a young boy who plays Little League baseball — not very well, but plays none the less — and one day he gets injured on the school grounds.  He breaks his arm, and as it heals, one of the tendons becomes tighter than it should be.  This results in him having a great pitching arm, and one day while attending a Major League baseball game, the boy’s “magical arm” is discovered. 

Then comes the evaluation by the manager of the Chicago Cubs, and the all-famous question:

“Hey, kid!  How would you like to play for the Chicago Cubs?”

“Oh! Well, uh… sure!”

And suddenly, the boy’s life changes dramatically, as he is transported from the world of Little League, to the world of Major League baseball, to replace the pitcher that everyone suddenly considers a has-been.

The movie? “Rookie of the Year.”  The boy?  “Henry.”

Henry.  The little boy… from Illinois….

Funny how that reminds me of another person from Illinois right now.

And this other person is not a little boy, mind you, but I feel for him because the American people have done to this man exactly what was done to Henry, the young boy in “Rookie of the Year.”  We’ve taken someone who has not had more than Little League experience, and we’ve asked this person to play in the Major League.  As far as I’m concerned, we’ve taken him all the way to the World Series.

Of course, you know I’m speaking of President-elect Barack Obama.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need to pray.

Not that he’s a bad person, or a wrong choice for president.  Opinions about his past don’t really matter at this point, because he’s been elected.  That’s all been decided, and there’s no turning back now.  So where do we go from here?  We do the thing we’re supposed to do for all of our presidents: we pray, and pray earnestly, that this one will be the kind of president that the Lord desires for him to be.

But I want you to consider the position that he’s in, for just a minute.

Obama was trucking along as a Junior Senator, and hadn’t even completed his first term in office.  So, at best he has had “minor league” experience, but certainly not “major league.” And the powers that be of the Democratic Party, the “team managers” if you will, believed him to have a “magical arm.” So they asked him the all-famous question: “Hey, kid! You wanna play for the MAJOR Leagues?” To which Obama said, “Well, sure!”  So they got him a uniform, and said, “Okay, be at the field on January 20 for your first practice.”

But this is no ordinary ballgame.  This isn’t even playing for the pennant.  THIS is the World Series.  He’s gone all the way to the top, without much D.C. playing time.  He’s not even had much time in the bullpen.  Yet, here he is, standing on the mound, waiting to throw his first pitch.  The crowds are cheering, for “Henry” has come in to save the day, to take over for the “has-been” pitcher who has been relieved. Everyone is watching, from the owner to the manager to the team members to the fans in the stands.

It is the crucial moment.  Will this kid be able to strike out the opposing player?  Or will he throw a dull pitch, and give the other team a home run?

For that matter, will he even be able to read the signals from the catcher?

It’s a terrifying thing, to be at the top.  It’s hard, even for those who have had time to gain lots of experience.  It’s hard to be “out on point” and be the one that everyone looks to for the answers, leadership, correct vision, plan, and direction for the team.  It’s even worse, however, when you are placed in that position without years of experience to back up your playing ability.  It’s down right impossible.

So, folks, we need to pray.  Not because he’s a disaster walking in.  But because he needs us. 

And this is no ordinary World Series.  This, mind you, is a ballgame played on several different fields at once.  He’s not just pitching against one team, he’s pitching against multiple teams.  How does one do that, you might ask?  Well, think of it as “baseball with a transporter.”  He not only has to pitch in the Russian game, but also the Chinese game, and the Iraq game, and the Pakistan game, and the North Korea game, and the Iran game.  Besides all the foreign policy games, he also has to pitch in the “US Economy game” and the “US health care” game and the “same sex marriage” game and the “abortion” game and the… need I say more?

Are you ready to join me in the prayer closet yet?

And we as Americans tend to look to our President to “fix everything.”  So we’re going to expect him to pitch a “no hitter” game, in all fields.  “Three up, three down!” as the saying goes.  I ask you, is that fair?  Is it reasonable?  Is it justified?

Now suppose, that the “appropriations committee for the preservation of the third baseman” starts complaining that they’re not getting their fair share of “playing time.” Or they want a higher salary, and if they don’t get it, they’re gonna walk.  Or suppose the catcher, the one that gives the pitcher all the signals for how he’s supposed to pitch, suddenly is out with the flu.  Will the pitcher still be able to do as good a job?  Will he still be able to carry the team to victory?  See, we look at the “star pitcher with the magical arm” and expect him to do the work of everyone, and carry everyone.  However, we must remember that he is only one — ONLY one — member of a multiplayer team.

And this team, if you will recall, has 535 other members, some who are nice, some who are not so nice, some who have a great work ethic, and some, sadly, who do not.  How does he rally all of them at the same time? How does he keep them on the same page, singing the same song, all the time?  Keep them all SMILING, for crying out loud?!?  And keep them all moving toward one goal: the protection and the well-being of this great country, our nation, the United States of America?

Are you moving toward the prayer closet yet?

Then, on top of everything else a pitcher has to contend with, there’s the “wind.” And the “wind” in this nation is pretty hard to contend with.  A star pitcher can have the GREATEST curve ball, yet the wind be so ferocious that, try as he might to get that ball to land where it needs to over home plate, the ball will end up way out of place. 

There is a lot of “wind” in this nation.  Thoughts and opinions fly, for first one team member and then another.  The “wind” can be contrary, or the “wind” can be pleasant.  However, the sad fact of the matter is, ALL of us in this nation are affected by the “wind.” And the “wind” can change its direction in a heartbeat.  And if he pitches in such a way as to displease the “wind,” he’ll find himself with the “wind” coming straight at him.  Then the ball won’t even make it to the plate.  And if he pitches in such a way as to cater to the “wind,” then his pitches will be out of his control.  So this “kid” from Illinois with the “magical arm” is going to have to pitch with so much power that the “wind” won’t affect his pitching, and he’s going to have to keep it up, for four long years.

There is a verse in the Bible that talks about sowing to the “wind” and reaping the “whirlwind.”  See? You can cater to the breezes, and end up with a tornado.  Selah.

Are you running toward the prayer closet yet?

Now, there is a crisis in the movie about little Henry.  He falls on the field, in the last inning of the last game of the season, and his “magical arm” returns to normal.  And he can no longer pitch powerful pitches.  And as he tries to walk the first batter, the fans and the team members begin to holler and boo.  It’s a terrifying situation, to realize that everyone is counting on you, and suddenly you don’t have what they’re expecting.

Suppose that our star pitcher, who is going to take office tomorrow, finds himself in a position where he can’t deliver?  Suppose the “magical arm”… is gone?

In the movie, Henry pulls the team together and gives them a plan that will “save the day” but it’s a terrifying, nerve-wracking moment.  But the one thing that comes to light in this crisis, is that it takes ALL of the team to pull off the last inning.  Just like it took all of the team, all along.  And Henry leads them to victory, but not without the prayers of his mom, who is watching from the stands.  And not without her encouragement.  And not without her faith.

Our star pitcher is going to have to remember that it’s the WHOLE team and not the pitcher, that makes the ballgame a “surefire win.”  And he’s going to have to do that, consistently, with ALL players.  No hanging out with the first base man, and ignoring the shortstop.  No being “pals” with the outfielders, and snubbing the infielders.  It’s the whole team, working together, or it’s not going to work.  And if he can’t get the whole team to work together, then the World Series that our “Little League” pitcher has been thrust into will be lost.

President Barack Obama needs our prayers as he steps onto the mound, because when the pitcher picks up that baseball, it might not be an adrenalin rush that is caused by the cheering of his team, the jeering of the opposing team, and the roar of the crowd.  It might be sheer panic and confusion instead.

The greatest pitchers in all of history have  had their bad pitches and their errors.  This “star pitcher” will probably do no better throughout his pitching career.  So I ask you, what are you going to do when he pitches one that creates a home run for the other team?  Because in this game, in this World Series, a lot is hanging in the balance for this country.  Too many home runs for the other teams, and…. we lose.

Get the picture?

Ready to come to the prayer closet yet?  I’m holding the door open for ya.

Today’s Cookie  Crumb:

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
(I Timothy 2:1-4)

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