By DANNY MINTON
Growing up in a small town, the big summer event was Little League baseball. As they reached the age of around 12, the boys in town would anticipate the summer when they would first be picked to play. Baseball was big in the ’50’s. In Plano, the boys would be anxiously waiting by the phone the Saturday the teams were picked to see to which team they would be assigned. We had four teams in our league, the Colts, Sports, Athletics and Lions (If my memory is correct on the last one).
Every boy wanted to play for the Colts. They were the best team for several years. They were winners. They had the athletes from the prior year who would carry them to the championship again, so that’s where the newly selected recruits wanted to be as well. Like the others, I waited in anticipation for the call with the hope of being a blue and white Colt that first summer.
The call came from one of my friends. “Danny,” he said in a tone that I could tell even hurt him, “you were selected to the Sports.” When I hung up, I was devastated. Not only did I not make the Colts, but I was also on the worst team in the league. It was the team that had not won a single game the year before and was the worst in the last several years. The Sports, could it get any worse? The answer was a definite, “Yes.”
I bought my red and white baseball cap and headed out to the first team meeting. Even in disappointment, I looked forward to my first baseball uniform. The Sports’ colors were red and white. When it came time to distribute the uniforms the coach did not have enough of the red ones, so two of us got the colors of the old team, gray and green. I was one of the two who got the “different” one. Not a very good start for something you were excited about in the beginning. The other player with a green uniform quit so I alone was left as odd colored standout. It could not get any worse, right? Wrong!
My first time at bat was in a practice game with you guessed it, the Colts. Since I was small, everyone moved up on me. To the other team’s surprise, I was a better player than I looked. I connected with the first pitch and got a hit to right field. Then on first base, it happened. The pitcher threw the ball to pick me off, and I got back to the base but did not notice the old “hidden ball” trick. The first baseman acted like he threw it back, but instead held the ball. I stepped off the base and was promptly tagged out. I was again devastated. I sat by the fence and cried.
The bright spot was that I received my red and white uniform after a couple of weeks, we tied for second place that year and the following year tied for the division lead. Later, I was selected as one of the all-stars as the second baseman. Even though the beginning was rough, I never gave up and enjoyed several summers of small-town baseball.
The Bible teaches that “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Sometimes we are going to face tough challenges. The easy thing is to give up. We can just quit and move on. But giving up accomplishes nothing compared to the rewards that can come our way from sticking through the tough times. It is through facing trials and hardships and defeating the tests that come our way that we become stronger in our spiritual lives. The apostle Peter is a great example of this. He was called down for rebuking Jesus, his faith wavered as he walked on water and he denied Jesus at his trial. Yet he became the greatest of all the apostles.
So next time life gives you a green uniform and puts you in a last team situation think about the future. Turn that unfortunate circumstance into a winning season of your life.
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ