Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Rev. Klockers: Baseball lessons that also may be God-sent

| April 23, 2021 1:00 AM

Mark 8:31, from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible says, “Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

I was raised on baseball. My father really loved the game and grew up playing it. Back then, he even mentored the local neighborhood kids on baseball skills.

Before World War II, Dad went to baseball school in Oregon and later tried out for a semi-pro team. He ended up being one of the last three cut from the team before the season.

Fast forward to after Dad met my mom and married – he “wanted all boys so he could field a baseball team,” he would joke.

Then reality happened – two girls, and later on, a “happy accident.” That was me, the only boy.

I played Little League baseball as a youth and in left field. I didn’t know why the coach put me out there. That was the place on the field where most of the action would happen.

I vividly recall the first time a fly ball came my direction. I heard the crack of the bat and the ball went skyward. My heart raced as I placed myself beneath the ball as it started to fall. … and I caught it. That initial experience was such a confidence-builder.

Looking back, I think the only reason I started in left field was because of my dad’s reputation.

I ended up playing three seasons of Little League. In high school, I played baseball my senior year only. I rode the bench. I only played in a couple of games. I got up to bat three times and got a single hit. So, if anyone would ask about my batting average, it was .333. I played church softball for many years and have a lot of fond memories. I hung up the cleats at age 50 because of arthritis in my hip.

So, my “baseball career” wasn’t anything special to write home about. That said, I really did enjoy playing. The game taught me a lot of things, including sportsmanship in winning and losing.

That’s something that I took with me into everyday life.

I learned in life and baseball that there can be losing streaks, but to be patient and the wins would happen in time.

The “passion prediction” occurs three times in Mark’s gospel, the first being Mark 8:31 (above). Each encapsulates Jesus’ earthly ministry in just a few words. They lead one to what seems like a crushing defeat, death from being crucified. However, what follows – the end product – is a victory like no other through Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.

May God lift us up when in our lives when we may feel defeated; may there be victories that follow, played out in the most surprising of ways.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.

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