One of the things that I have noticed this year in the myriad of professional baseball games that my wife (who just happens to be celebrating her birthday today!) and I have been watching is what seems to be the increase of inconsistencies in pitch calling from the home plate umpires. With modern technology today, most sports networks have computer generated optical devices that track each pitch as it is thrown by the pitcher. This visual aid enables the viewers to instantly see if a pitch was a strike or a ball.
What I have been observing is a proliferation of pitches that do not touch any corner of the plate being called a strike, or pitches that are called a strike one time and then another thrown in the identical position being called a ball! This unpredictability causes negative reactions from both teams as well as with the fans. A couple of nights ago it was obvious that the batter (who was known to be a very good hitter with a high batting average) was swinging at pitches that he would not normally swing at because he never knew from pitch to pitch what it might be called.
At the same time you could see the player’s manager shaking his head at the calls. A few weeks ago, a Giants pitcher and their manager were ejected from a game because of their questioning the umpire’s repeated inconsistency is his pitch calling. I have also heard various team announcers expressing their displeasure and frustration with these calls. It is easy to see and hear the fans frustrations with these calls as well… and on top of all that… my patient wife and startled dog have to put up with me when I suddenly jump up and yell at the umpire from the comforts of our couch!
When these things occur you can literally feel the disconnect amongst the players, the umpires, the announcers and the fans. There is no unity, lots of frustration and heated tempers that make the game not very enjoyable to participate in, nor to watch!
The Apostle Paul seemed to have a good handle on this phenomenon. In Colossians 3:15 he wrote: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful.” (KJV) One would think that he looked through the ages into the future and specifically thought about the game of baseball when he penned those words! According to Thayer’s, the first definition of the word “rule” is “to be an umpire.”
The decisions that we make in our daily lives parallel the descriptions of the baseball games I mentioned above. When we have a good umpire that we can depend on, we tend to live a more productive and enjoyable life. When that umpire becomes unsteady or unpredictable, life can take a quick detour over some bumpy roads.
Paul tells us that God’s peace is a predictable and reliable umpire from which to govern our lives. I would go as far as to say that for me, it has been the MOST reliable, MOST used and MOST trusted tool in my personal life’s toolbox! I have grown to depend on that peace to guide me in and through just about every decision I make… and especially with the decisions I have needed to make concerning my wife’s welfare. There were times when it was the ONLY thing I had to hang onto when facing some of the unprecedented pressures of disagreement and distrust that I faced from some individuals close to us.
S. Way’s “The Letters of St. Paul to Seven Churches and Three Friends with the Letter to the Hebrews” describes Paul’s words in Colossian 3:15 as “May the peace of Messiah set at rest all doubts in your hearts…” That translation would perfectly describe my feelings when dealing with the raging waves of disagreement and distrust from others. The peace that I felt above everything else gave my heart the rest it needed and helped me to proceed with the directions I felt led to follow.
The Message Bible encourages us to “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing…” I realized as I meditated on that version this morning that this exactly characterizes what I felt when we returned to our home town after going to Bible School in Oklahoma. I didn’t understand it at the time… especially as we got deeper into our interactions with some of the institutions and individuals we used to be involved with. It is now apparent that things were different, confusing and increasingly frustrating to us because we were not “in tune with each other, in step with each other.”
I remember thinking at one point a few years back, that after being with this family for over forty years, that they still do not know me or my family! And let me tell you… that realization hurt! It was obvious that there was no unity, no understanding and therefore NO PEACE between us. I always had the feeling that some of the different individuals we interacted with THOUGHT or just assumed that they knew us and always tended to proceed with their suggestions and actions based on those incorrect assumptions. It used to frustrate and confuse me when these folks would hardly ever ask questions about the things that we did, about how we were doing or even to inquire as to how Piper was doing in the battle she was facing! Most times it was as if these same folks were happy staying at a distance from us and in just doing their own thing.
In my over fifteen years in management at Hewlett Packard/Agilent I took many classes that taught us new skills and abilities to enhance our work performance. Many of these classes were considered “core” management classes that were said to add additional tools to our personal management toolboxes. Like I mentioned before, if you were to look into my life’s toolbox today, you would find the tool of God’s PEACE at the top of the pile and quickly observe that it is the most well-worn, but yet most well-cared for tool in the box!
This is probably the tool that we most consistently taught our four kids as well as our countless students in church classes through the years to use. It is sometimes the most uncanny ability or tool that you will have at your disposal when everything or everyone else around you is telling (or yelling at) you to go a different way! But it is also the ONLY tool that you can TOTALLY depend on in every situation, in every need or in any call that needs to be made!
Have a great day today. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s PEACE am I expecting to FOLLOW today?”