A Little League Challenge
At the beginning of this last baseball season, I told my players I was looking for improvements in effort and attitude as the season went along and not results. The results, I promised them, would not be there this season, but would show up in the far distant future if they kept putting in the work and having the right attitude.
Most of the kids accepted this and, with course corrections along the way, really took to heart the challenge of playing in this setting. Most of our players were 8 year olds playing against teams comprised of mostly 10 year olds.
It is the spiritual application of a ‘todays effort = a future reward’ attitude that I want to share with you today.’
A Little League Challenge Applied to Life
This morning I had a conversation with a man who has begun the process of turning his life around. I’ve known him for a few years and we talk every so often (it’s getting more frequent). He has intentionally set himself on a path that will eventually lead to great things – restoration of his lifestyle and independence, the possibility of forming relationships with others, and even potentially a rewarding career one day.
However, none of this has happened yet. In fact, what he wanted to talk to me about today was that he feels like his life has gotten WORSE since he started making an effort. There were more demands on his money (which is severely limited), more demands on his time (which is less free than it used to be), and more demands on his character (which increases the more he goes out into the world).
I assured him that this is all perfectly normal for what he’s going through. We have to work hard and put in the effort for a long period of time before we see the results.
- God does something, forms something in us along the way, as we walk closely with Him and others who share Christ’s name.
- God does something in us as we focus on developing Christ like virtues and values in our lives.
- God does something in our lives as we put our heart and soul into our work and relationships.
These are all seeds that have been planted, but must be watered and be allowed to see the light of day before they will be able to grow and bear fruit in us.
As human beings, we don’t do very well with delayed gratification. We want what we do today to bear results today (or maybe tomorrow at the latest).
- Yet in most situations, the best we can hope for is a pay check every two weeks showing us some marginal return on our effort.
- In the best situation, the most we can hope for is a phone call two weekends a month from friends wanting to get together during free time.
- In the best situation, most of us get new cars every 6.7 years or longer, according to the US census.
These things take time and cultivation.
- If we stop working today, we get more time, but in three weeks we will really feel it.
- If we stop cultivating relationships with others, we might not feel lonely for a week or two, but after a month we will notice.
- We might enjoy spending all of our money today on fun things, but in 8 years, when our car dies on the side of the road, we’ll feel it.
Our Walk with God is the Same.
We might not notice if we stop praying today or reading our scriptures today or worshipping this week, or serving others this month. But in the long run, we will notice. And it will make a difference in our lives and in the lives of our children and grandchildren.
We might be able to get away with not focusing on cultivating the virtues and values of Christ in our lives today. But several years from now these virtues and values will be like fruit withered on the tree. When called upon or needed they will be rotten instead of ripe.
And that’s what this season taught our players (most of them), We can get away with not working today, but by the end of next season and in five years, our lack of effort will show up.
We can get away with not focusing on following Christ today. We might even have more free time if we don’t focus on following Christ. But in five days, or weeks, or months, or years, where will that path lead us? We won’t see how God will use us, or even bless us, in the future…especially when we are going through trials or hardships today. But we do know that everything we go through today, trains who we are for the future.
May we all choose to follow Christ today.
Written by Rev Nathan W Carlson
2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus