Friday, January 05, 2007

keep your eyes on the ball

Though we don't have our resident baseball expert with us, Lukas McKnight (former catcher in their system, and now scout extraordinaire for the Chicago Cubs), I want to look at a baseball analogy that came to my mind yesterday. Baseball players, when they come to the plate as hitters, must keep their eyes on the ball, since their goal is to hit it solidly with their bat. Other things are involved in good hitting too. But we look at this basic fundamental in becoming a good hitter.

Now the baseball player may enjoy the atmosphere. The game. The colors, sounds, smells, etc. Even some past good hits when they were batting. But unless one keeps their eyes on the baseball, seeing it into the catcher's mitt, if they take (i.e., don't swing), they surely have less of a chance to be a good hitter, or to hit the baseball. The best hitters, I've heard, can see the spin on the ball, though I can't understand how that is so when there's a fastball coming up 100 miles per hour or more, or even 90 mph, from only 60' 6'' (18.39 m) where the pitcher throws.

In our lives we have to remind ourselves what is most important. What is greatest in priority in God's kingdom in Jesus. Maybe just in regard to keeping our feet on the ground, our hearts in sync with God's heart, day after day. And sometimes when we are in an especially difficult or critical time, such as in the ninth inning with two out and a runner in scoring position, and the batter steps to the plate.

It is easy to have bad habits as a baseball hitter. That do not give one as good of a chance to hit the ball. Same surely goes for us as followers of Jesus. We can fall back into old habits and sin patterns. We can lose focus on what really matters. What is really important in a given situation? What are we facing? What is at stake?

In drawing from this simple baseball analogy, we're referring to life which itself is often much less simple in our experience. Interwoven with all kinds of issues of heart, living and relationships. But to get back to basic things, and then live according to those things, is important, to be sure, in learning to better follow the Lord in our lives.

The Lord has been working on me in regard to something. And in learning to wait, working on what I need to do in this waiting, I have found God's help in grace given to better live and move and have my being (and doing) in him, in this matter.

How does this strike you? What helps you keep your eyes focused on Jesus and on what really matters in life, or in a given situation? Or anything else you might like to share.


julie said...


First time visit. (I followed you from Jim Martin's place) :)

This post reminded me of something I learned yesterday.

I agreed to fast with a friend who has a very difficult decision ahead. She needs clarity and to know the most loving way to handle a very dark/ugly situation. So I did't eat (just a couple of meals... nothing drastic), and I didn't turn on the TV, and I didn't listen to any audio books (which was very tempting as I was almost at the end of a very compelling novel).

But anyway, I chose to listen to worship music, scripture and have periods of silence (unusual for a busy working mom).

My conclusion was that being hungry in one way resulted in getting filled up in another.

I had taken my eye off the ball without realizing it.

Thanks for this analogy. :)

L.L. Barkat said...

Pun intended? :) ("How does this strike you?")

That brought a little smile to my face.

Charity Singleton said...

I think the ancient term for "keeping our eye on the ball" is "vigilance." I was so helped by a chapter in Gary Thomas' The Glorious Pursuit about keeping watch over our souls. Here's how he describes vigilance, which seems to apply to what you have written: "Vigilance means ordering our outside world in such a way that we can nurture our inner world. It means we make spiritual health a significant factor in every decision."

Thanks for a great post, Ted.

Lukas McKnight said...

Here I am! I'm back!

I like the analogy, and even more in this sense- as a player, we all feared for spectators. Why? you may ask? Foul balls come at a great rate of speed, and many spectators don't pay attention. As players, we understand how dangerous and destructive a baseball can be. The fans, not dealing with a hard round ball everyday, don't seem to respect the ball in the same way. A small thing (a ball or sin) can cause much greater damage than we ever realize.

Good post, Ted!

Ted Gossard said...

Julie, Thanks for visiting. And for sharing your experience. So easy to lose our focus. I battle with that, in little and bigger ways, regularly (at least I've noticed that recently). Nice to read how you were there for your friend.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., I'm not sure I directly thought of that with regard to the analogy I used. Maybe it was there subconsciously as those words came to mind while I was typing. ha. I think things like that (play on words, etc.) can land in one's mind when they're not trying, or trying too hard(?).

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, Nice definition for vigilance. This reminds me that there is plenty involved in the simplicity of keeping our focus.

I've read at least two books of Gary Thomas and liked them all. Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Lukas, Thanks much for stopping by. Great analogy there. That baseball looks even smaller to the fan from a distance. So I think your point would be that fans need to be ready themselves and keep their eyes on the ball as well. And be wary of that little ball. Which can bring with it a world of hurt. Like sin inour lives. Little and coming out of nowhere, hitting us. Yeah, we've all been there.

Hope you're time in Mexico isn't slipping away too fast. Wouldn't it be nice if clocks would slow down at certain times!