A Lesson from the Diamond

The strike zone is an imaginary rectangular box floating over home plate that goes approximately from the knee to the belly button depending on the league and level. It is somewhat subjective to the eye of any given umpire from night to night. It is the job of the pitchers and batters to figure out what the exact zone is going to be each night, and the job of the umpire to be consistent with that zone from the first pitch to the last. The strike zone is not something that player and umpire always agree on, and it is absolutely critical to every other part of the game of baseball.

I was umpiring a very competitive 18u game last week, and there was a player that took issue with a strike call I made on a curveball. The ball was caught by the catcher below the strike zone, but it was well within the zone when it went past the batter. The discussion was short. He said, “That wasn’t even close.” I simply replied with, “I agree, it wasn’t even on the corner. It was in the zone when it went by you and it will be a strike the whole game.” I wish I could say he took my response well, but he didn’t. Luckily for him, he was able to stay in the game, but he wasn’t happy.

As I reflected about this interaction on my way home that evening, I noticed some parallels to our relationship with God. This is not a perfect illustration, but one that hit home for me. The strike zone, or God’s law, is not something that changes. We have a perfect lawgiver, or umpire, that does not change with social pressure or because of his own errors or ours. We know what God expects from us, his Word is available to us to see his expectations. Sometimes we don’t agree, sometimes we don’t like the strike zone he has given us, but that is the strike zone. Sometimes we even argue with God, as that batter did, about what we think the strike zone should be, but he does not change the zone. We are welcome to live within that perfect law that gives freedom as it says in James 1:25, and James says we will be blessed. But with that, a strike is a strike. What is right is right. What is wrong is wrong. God loves us and has set up his law as a barrier for us so we can see what a blessed life we can live within the perfect law that gives freedom.

There is, however, good news. Despite our missing the strike zone, or swinging at pitches not in the strike zone, the baseball analogy breaks down when you get to the “one, two, three strikes, you’re out,” that we find in the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Despite our stubborn spirit, our sinfulness, our tendency to throw balls out of the strike zone, our tendency to go after things that are not in the zone, 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

James 1:25

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it-they will be blessed in what they do.”

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