By DANNY MINTON
Summertime in the 1950’s and 60’s was much different than today. You had your chores to mow the lawn or wash the car, but other than that you would pretty much have a lot of free time on your hands. There were no cell phones, computers or video games (unless you count “Pong” which few people owned), and in our case one public pool and one semi-private one. Very few, if any, had one in their backyard in our small town. Most of our time was spent playing football in the lot behind Billy Don’s house or a sandlot baseball game behind the old high school. Sometimes we’d have a dozen or so and other times we’d have only seven or eight.
It was when we had so few that we’d play scrub baseball with three batters and the rest would play the field. It took a lot more running and better play to move around, so the older and bigger boys were at-bats a lot more than those of us who were smaller. If two boys got on base the first batter would have to make it home, do or die no matter what the third batter did. We’d usually play a seven or nine-inning game, although time would allow a doubleheader at times. If the score got out of hand, we might halt the action and choose sides again.
I was short and weighed about 60 pounds in those days. The only time I was ever chosen first for a team was when it was decided to pick the smallest first. You sure didn’t want to be last, but that was often the case when the picking got down to the last couple of guys still unpicked, one of the “pickers” would chime in “you take so and so, and I’ll take the other.” No one expected much of us at-bats who were chosen low in the “picking” order. We were basically just expected to try and stop the ball if it came our way and keep it in play.
The first time I came to play with the big guys I wasn’t expected to do much. During this first game, it was my turn to bat. I remember it well. The fielders felt so threatened by me that the infield moved in right behind the pitcher and the outfield moved in, to the edge of the infield sand area. You can imagine how embarrassing it was to see this. Everyone was so close I could have thrown my bat and hit any of them easily.
I was always a first-pitch hitter, so when the pitcher threw the first pitch, I swung hard. More action took place in the next few seconds than the entire time we had been playing. You see, not only did I hit the ball over everyone’s head, it sailed out to where they would have been for any other batter. From there it was a mad dash around the bases for me as the outfielders were racing as hard as they could to get the ball as it rolled toward the street behind left field.
A scrawny 60-pound kid had embarrassed them all. I can still remember it clearly. The next time it was my turn to bat no one moved in closer. The outfielders held their place ready to catch a fly ball that came their way.
There are always those in life who don’t have faith in us. They are the “nay-sayers” who spend more time looking at things through the eyes of doubt than the eyes of possibility. Too often the church is held back by the “it won’t work” or “we’ve done that before” group who have no vision for what can be. They proclaim a list of all the things that have failed and how they doubt the success of most things to any great extent. The church is held back, not because of the things we can’t do, but because there are those who don’t know how to dream big. No one dreams to do the impossible.
When it comes to ourselves, we too are often stymied by our failure to look deep within ourselves and do great things. Again, the seeds of doubt seep into our thoughts, and we tell ourselves “I can’t” and so in the end “we don’t.” The church and us as individuals need to start thinking about possibilities and have the same vision for the world that Jesus did when he started with a small group of 12 men. They had gone from doubters and men who feared for their lives to baptizing over 3,000 people at the first “church service.” I know the scripture says about 3,000, so being a possibility thinker, I suggest it was at least 3,001!
Paul wrote to the Philippians, “I can do everything through Him, who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Failure comes when we convince ourselves that we cannot succeed. If we believe in ourselves even when others don’t, we can do great things. Take notice that Paul did not say he could do anything, but that he could do everything. There is nothing that I can’t accomplish with God on my side.
I was never a power hitter, but good enough with enough confidence that no one ever moved up on me again. Oh, there was one more time. I was never good enough to play ball beyond high school but did make the all-stars as second baseman in Little League. Even there, the first time I was at bat the other team played in on me. Guess what. I hit a single into left field. Dream possibilities and possibilities will happen.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ