Most people around our city here in Atlanta, Georgia spent a rainy Saturday indoors last weekend, but not us. Our family was up early and parked at the ball field for the Fall Tournament wrap up of Leia’s 11th season of softball. Most of the time inclement weather causes youth sporting events to reschedule, but since our league has only one weekend to complete its tournament, lightning is the only reason to suspend games. So with our umbrellas and rain gear in place, we sat on wet (and sparsely populated) bleachers to cheer on our girl.
As it turned out, bad weather didn’t stop the games from being competitive and scores close. Near the end of the first game, runs were knotted at 9 and as we headed into the final inning, tensions were high. I guess that’s always to be expected in any group of 14-17 year old kids, but add in the overly competitive nature of most teenage boys and mix it with a testosterone-fueled desire to win, there’s bound to be an explosion. And that’s exactly what happened.
One questionable call that allowed a tie-breaking run to score for our team sent the oldest and best hitting and fielding player from the other team into a red-faced, screaming rage. Throwing his glove across the diamond, he yelled at the umpire, and expressing his indignation at what he believed to be wrong, he quickly got himself ejected from the game. Apparently oblivious to the fact that his coach had already begun the process of appealing the call to the home plate umpire, this boy simply was unable to stop his tirade. After slinging his equipment into the dug-out, he eventually grabbed his belongings and stomped away from the field, continuing his rant at the ‘injustice’ all the way to his car.
What he didn’t stay around to find out was that the coach’s appeal was upheld, the call was reversed, the run was removed and the game continued. Had he just calmed himself long enough to wait for his coach to take up his case, he’d have found that his team was vindicated… and without all the drama. In the end, his insistence on being heard and complaining about the unfairness only ended up making him look foolish, immature and in the end, hurt his own team who, without his help, went on to lose.
I think that believers in Jesus could learn a lot from what happened at that softball game. Often when we perceive a wrong has been done to us, we set out to make sure that it’s righted. Unfortunately, in our zeal for justice (as we see it), our own attitude and behavior over any perceived delay ends up looking a lot like that boy on the field last weekend. Our loud and often unceasing objections can end up coming across as very unchristlike and ends up accomplishing little and often hurting our own cause.
In the Old Testament, the Lord is referred to by many names, usually bringing attention to a particular facet of His character, and one of the most recurring is His title as our defender. In Psalm 18, He’s described as our ‘shield and fortress’, in Psalm 34:19, He’s labeled as a ‘faithful deliverer’, and in Psalm 46:1, He’s identified as our ‘refuge and strength’. And no verse is clearer about God’s promise to be our protector than Deuteronomy 32:4. It says, “The Lord is your mighty defender, perfect and just in all His ways; Your God is faithful and true; Hhe does what is right and fair.”
These verses (and many like them) remind us that it’s not up to us to champion ourselves against offenses done to us. A life of faith means that we learn to look beyond the immediate circumstances and trust the Lord to bring justice that’s appropriate and timely. And when things don’t turn out the way we hope, we need the strength of our convictions to believe that even difficulties and disappointments (that are mixed with faith in Jesus) will result in good. (Rom. 8:28)
So, when it looks like the enemy has just scored on an error, resist the temptation to throw a red-faced fit. Instead, defer to your divine “coach,” while you “let go of bitterness, wrath, anger and malice” (Eph 4:31), “keep no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5) and choose to “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)