Special-Tea: Proverbs 2:1–11
For the Lord gives wisdom ... he holds victory in store for the upright. — Proverbs 2:6, 7 NIV
I love baseball! And I often think how guidelines to playing the game translate into wise counsel for living life victoriously. Here, in no particular order and listed as they came to me, is some of the advice I heard my husband give my son during our baseball years:
1. Keep alert. Be ready for that ball to come to you. Anticipate the next play. The same is true in life. Much comes bouncing, flying straight at you when you least expect it. “Stay alert,” the apostle Peter wrote, “keep a firm grip on the faith” (1 Peter 5:8 The Message).
2. Listen to your coach. Know the signs and heed them. He’s the coach for a reason — he knows more than you about the game and he sees what you, in your position on the field, can’t. He wants you to overcome the opponent and come out on top. In life, “trust in the Lord and do good,” (Psalm 37:3), for in heeding Him “there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11). (Don’t forget Isaiah 55:8-9.)
3. Back up your pitcher. Support your team members. I remember the wife of David’s Little League coach cheering for the team to “talk it up out there.” The coach didn’t want silence on the field — he wanted to hear them encouraging each other. And don’t expect the pitcher to do it all. No matter how well he’s pitching, he needs some run support from the rest of the team if they want to win the game. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
4. Bad calls are part of the game. There’s nothing you can do about them. Arguing, whining and letting it affect your attitude the rest of the game won’t help you or the rest of the team. Shrug it off. Life isn’t fair, either. Forget what’s behind you and press on to what’s ahead (Philippians 3:13-14).
5. Rain delays are part of the game, too. Sometimes you find yourself in a waiting period. You can’t stop the rain, but you can use the time to practice patience. (Psalm 37:7, Isaiah 40:31)
6. You win some, and you lose some. Cut your losses, learn from them and don’t let your wins get to your head. Instead, work on your weaknesses and don’t let pride nullify what strengths you have. (Proverbs 16:18).
7. Training is necessary, is painful, and stretches you beyond your limits. But it also builds strength and character. The difficult things you face in life are the training ground God uses shape you into the person He wants you to be. (1 Corinthians 9:24-29)
8. Put on your game face. Attitude can make or break you. Like the renowned catcher Yogi Berra said, “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” So it is in life — what you think, what goes through your mind day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute — can be the determining factor in winning or losing, in overcoming or succumbing. (Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8-9)
9. You can do a lot on two outs. “The game isn’t over until it’s over” (Yogi Berra). Or in the words of the late Winston Churchill: “Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” And in the words of St. Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Help me, Lord, be to wise enough to heed Your guidelines. Amen.