Jim Johnson – 687 words
I have two grandsons who began little league this year. Their mom equipped them with more gear than the Rangers on opening day. Give me one reason why every kid needs his own batting helmet? OK – besides head lice?
Unfortunately, both boys started the program late in the game (no pun intended). Their peers have been playing for years. (Some already have the scratch down). My boys are seriously improving every day, but they started out being exiled to the bane of baseball players everywhere – right field.
For fun, I googled this question: “Why is right field so bad?” Wikipedia weighed in. “Right field has developed a reputation in Little League as being a position where less talented players can be “hidden” without damaging a team’s defense in any significant way.” A lofty ambition! “Hey coach I want to go in. Hide me where I won’t damage the teams defense in any significant way.”
The ball hardly ever makes it to right field and every right fielder knows it. I chuckle as I watch the many right fielders bear their boredom in the uttermost part of the field. One twists like a contortionist, another gazes into the sky and another lays down in the fields of clover.
I sheepishly admitted to my son-in-law that I am the carrier of the right field gene. I earned the position in my kindergarten year.
I filled up the boredom by pretending my glove was an army helmet, or by spectating at the spectators, or by stomping on bees who were sipping from the clover. Yes, I am the one who is singularly responsible for the decline of the bee population.
When I heard the crack of the old ash bat, I would look for projectiles coming my way. No worries! T-ball had not been invented yet and it was kid pitch all the way. The chances of a kid throwing a strike, and another getting a hit were about the same as me getting signed to the Phillies.
One shimmery bright afternoon, the coach sent me in to stomp on bees. The score was – me seven – the bees zero. Then I heard the bat pop and the spectators scream. I looked up to find every eye locked on me. I panicked as I scanned the field for the ball.
I found it – or actually – it found me. I looked up and it hit me right on the head. When I came to, I was surrounded by my dad, the coaches, Babe Ruth and the rest of the 1932 Yankees. It’s possible the hit addled my brain a little. Maybe my dad wasn’t actually there.
A painful lesson learned: You can’t play the game unless you pay attention.
I have graduated from little league, but I am still in the game. The visiting team maybe dressed in red (and I am not talking about the Cardinals). Paul the apostle tells me that the evil one sends flaming arrows my way (Eph. 6:16). He referenced the weapon of the Roman legions – hollow cane arrow shafts, filled with flammables to devastate their enemies.
Satan launches his arrows of temptation and deceit to defeat and trip us up. When we bat, he pitches low and outside and suckers us into swinging. When his arrows find their target, it puts him on the scoreboard.
Paul told us to pay attention, “by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Eph. 6:16) NETBible® He referred to the Roman scutum, a wooden shield the size of a door. It was covered in layers of leather which were thoroughly wetted before battle. It effectively intercepted and extinguished flaming arrows.
We have a shield. Because of our faith in Christ, we have the wisdom to discern truth from error, and the power to resist Satan’s worst.
Someone, however, must hold up that shield, pay attention and be ready for battle. Someone must take their eyes off the bees and keep them on the game. The flaming arrows come even to those who play right field.