God Pitches Underhand
Pastor Isaacson greeted Deacon Jarvis and Brother Matthew on his way to his strategic destination: the softball field.
Deacon Jarvis gave a phony, stiff military salute. It preceded a practiced smile that –by this time – was in danger of being exposed.
Brother Matthew waved absently, as if he had been sitting in the back of a car during a parade.
“Getting in the game, gentlemen … excuse me,” he announced as he trotted by and away.
“Doesn’t he know that there’s nothing more to prove,” said Deacon Jarvis, taking off his cap, and wiping his increasingly sweaty brow with the back of his hand.
Brother Matthew shook his head, and gulped down a big swallow of diet soda from a can.
Deacon Jarvis and Brother Matthew found a seat on the metal bleachers just in time for a new pitcher to be added. It was the Pastor himself.
He playfully wound up, and flipped the ball to one of the children. Careful not to pitch it too high or low, the Pastor then feigned surprise, and pretended to dive for it once it already got past him.
Brother Matthew smiled, and turned up the soda can to his mouth again. Deacon Jarvis threw a thin arm, and fist in the air.
“Whooooooooo!” he shouted.
The next batter was tall, and looked to be serious, so the Pastor changed his expression and threw the ball more skillfully, but still underhand.
Foul ball counted as strikes, and a pop up was caught in the outfield.
Before long, runs were scored on both sides, yet the game remained close.
Deacon Jarvis turned to Brother Matthew.
“Some things never change, Matthew,” he said, still watching the field, “I think that we old guys will be just fine … no matter what, who, when or how.”
“That’s good, “replied Matthew, “but what is that supposed to mean?”
The Deacon looked over the field, and scratched his stubbly chin.
“I think a game of softball is like the Christian experience … I mean, pretty much anyway. It doesn’t matter how we feel or who the Pastor of our church is at any particular time in its history. We were making this the major leagues, but it’s not … no sides to take, no morning box scores to analyze, not press to explain our losses to.”
“Just what are you saying, Deacon Jarvis? I think I’m almost with you … but not quite. Where is the part about us being alright, and all that … where does it land? ”
“Okay, watch this ….”
Pointing between the pitcher and the batter as a focus point, he asked Brother Matthew to await the pitch and swing.
“Wack!” Deacon Jarvis exclaimed, pumping his fist.
The ball flew foul, and was returned to the pitcher.
“It went foul, “ he explained, “but he sure hit it nice and solid.”
The Deacon pointed again.
Brother Matthew squinted as he followed a well hit ball that escaped the outfielders.
“Look! Look at that … did you see that?” asked Deacon Jarvis.
“Yeah. Of course I saw it, I’m not blind, “replied Brother Matthew, “so what in the heck are you trying to tell me that’s so wonderful for us?”
“Every single pitch is thrown underhand, and no matter who comes to the plate, they all get a pretty darn good chance to get hit … or at least make contact with the ball, “ the Deacon explained, “ nobody is trying to blow a batter off the plate, the ball is soft and big, and the game is just easier.”
“God pitches underhand.”
Matthew gulped down the rest of his soda, and smiled.
“I get that. People out there sinning and doing whatever they please have the fast balls, curve balls, and changeups, whatever. Christians get the one pitch. God really wants us to hit it, but we still have to swing – make the effort. We have to show that we want to please Him, and play His game to the best of our ability. Okay. Nice. I mean, really nice.”
They cheer and wave genuinely at the Pastor, and fully enjoy the rest of the picnic knowing its tradition was safe, as well as their place in the fabric of the church. They realized that God only wants what is best – and will only pitch balls that are hittable. We just have to focus on Him and swing to the best of our ability.
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