Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)
TITLE: Pop Fly
By Joey Parker
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If you asked him, Eric couldn’t have told you what the score was or how much time was left in the game. All he knew was that he was in the infield. Nothing else mattered. His whole life came down to this moment.
His heart was thudding in his chest as the pitcher threw the first pitch. When the batter swung, Eric felt his heart thud in his chest. He wanted the chance to catch the ball and be the hero of the game but was also afraid he’d miss it and everyone would hate him. To a 9 year-old, catching a fly ball to second was everything.
The pitcher wound up and threw in the second pitch. The clink of the bat striking the ball made Eric jump up and start to run to cover second. Before he took two steps, he was stopped because the ump called it a foul ball. The batter returned to the plate and the pitcher had the ball again. Eric got back into position and waited for the next pitch.
He didn’t wait long. The ball was thrown right down the middle of the plate and the batter swung. Once again, the clink of contact echoed across the field and Eric’s breath stopped in his throat. The ball was hit towards Eric but looked to be traveling up to the clouds.
Eric straightened up and lifted his glove. The ball was coming right to him. As he watched the ball grow smaller and smaller as it went higher and higher, his mind started wandering. In his mind’s eye, he saw the ball drop down and land perfectly into his glove. The crowd was on its feet cheering at that magnificent catch. His team ran to him with their arms spread out as they surrounded him and vigorously patted him on the back. The coach called them together and made a show of giving Eric the game ball. They left the game and his parents bought him the biggest ice cream sundae he’d ever seen. That night he got to stay up as late as he wanted and even got to sit in his dad’s favorite chair.
His mind returned to the game and he focused in on the ball as it seemed to slow and then hang in the air. After a moment, the ball started to get bigger and bigger as it started to get closer and closer to him. Eric moved back and then took two steps forward. He couldn’t be sure where to stand. The ball could land anywhere. He was going to miss it.
Now his mind saw him miss the ball. It landed on the ground in a puff of dust and the batter was safe. The crowd started to boo him and his team all yelled at him. The game was over and no one would talk to him and the coach told everyone that it was his fault they’d lost. His momma cried all the way home and his dad made him go right to bed without his supper. Eric knew, if he missed this ball, his life would be over.
In that moment, no one could have convinced Eric that it was just a pop fly. That, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t a big deal. Whether he caught it or not wasn’t important. What mattered was that he remembered what the coach had taught him and did his best. That’s life in a nutshell. God trains and teaches us to prepare us for the challenges of this world. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail but, in the end, what truly matters is that we remember who’s in control and trust in Him. After all, in light of eternity, what’s a little pop fly here and there?
Back on the field, the ball dropped like a stone towards second base. As the ball which had become the focus of his entire world raced towards him, Eric raised his glove and squeezed shut his eyes.
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