God teaches us in such interesting ways, but does he really teach us the principle of prayer through Little League Baseball? I think so. I have always looked at God’s answers to prayer as either yes, no or wait. But I have to admit that there have been occasions that I was certain that my prayers weren’t even received.
The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.
Sitting in the stands week after week, eagerly watching as my sons take the bat and step up to the plate, my heart gets anxious and I begin to say a little prayer, this is how it typically goes, “Lord, please let him hit the ball.” Or “Lord, please let him get on first base, a hit would be nice but if he gets hit with the ball and it is not life threatening, I’m ok with that to.” How desperate is that? Well, this year God answered my prayers for Chad quite a few times, he had more than one game saving hit, and he had his best season ever. God had different plans for A.J this season. My prayers were answered but not in the typical way, not the boring and possibly painful way I prayed but in a super natural, creative, exciting, memorable and I hesitate to say but there was just a little, “in your face” edge to this answered prayer.
Hernie Harwell I am not, but I will give a little play by play that leads to this obvious answer to pray. Last game of the season, the big championship play off game, last inning, last up to bat for the “A’s”, (A.J's team) there are two outs, one man on 2nd base, the score 11 to 12 A.J’s team was behind by one run and yes, you guessed it, my boy is up to bat. I can’t even imagine how his heart must have been pounding, he by his own admission was in a “slump” he had not hit the ball in about 5 games.
So, here I go, “Lord, please.” strike one.
“Lord, are you there?” strike two.
“LORD, I’M SERIOUS.” SMACK. A line drive right through two outfielders…. the game is tied. A.J’s coach begins to scream, “Run A.J…run”. YES! He ran all the way home with a two run hit.
A.J’s team met him at home plate with a hero’s welcome; his hit won the championship game.
I am very competitive and I like to win and I like my kids to win but winning a sporting event has never brought tears to my eyes. This game was no exception, I did not cry because of the win, but I still cry at the love that God showed my son and I through this story. See, I told you the end of the story the beginning of the story started a year prior.
In the prior season I had the misfortune of witnessing a Little League coach verbally humiliating a child during a pre-game warm up and a parent humiliating a child on the same team, the same night.
"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."
The details of the story I will write about at another time, but the gist of the story is, I protected a child and God honored that. I reported the situation to the league president, the coaches and parent were reprimanded and it was put on record, along with a note stating “the Fillmore boys were never to be placed on this coaches team.” But it was not that easy, to give you a sense of how twisted adults can be especially the ones I was dealing with now, I was actually asked, if I knew whom I was dealing with? Yes of course, I knew the people involved very well, their children go to school with mine, but that was not going to stop me from standing up against evil. When it comes to protecting kids, it doesn’t matter to me who you are and I am pretty sure that the message got out loud and clear.
You are probably beginning to figure out what makes this story so meaningful. Yes, A.J’s winning hit was perfectly placed and perfectly timed. The team that lost at the hands of A.J’s winning hit, was coached by the arrogant and evil bully that I turned in the year before, and because God is in the details, it was the coach's son that was pitching. God waited for the perfect time for A.J to make the big hit, and not by coincidence was it hit to the team with the mean coach, no God planned it that way, God was making a statement, "Do what is right even when it's hard." As you may also guess A.J did not really want me to turn in this coach last year, because he does go to school with a lot of the kids on that team, but I just could not let this slide past and in the end A.J understood how important it was to try and stop children from being humiliated.
The very man that humiliated that little boy last year, was humiliated by the kid whose mom stood up to him. In my humanness I could definitely come up with this scenario but I don't think I had the nerve to pray that God would humiliate this man, it killed him that his team lost and that it was A.J that hit the ball.
A sad side note to this story, the boys on the losing team were crying, and when A.J asked them why, they said their coach/dad was going to yell at them. Yell at them? As if they did not do their very best. Wow, how glad I am that my Father doesn't yell at me when I am doing my best.
I can just see my loving Father watching His little creations playing baseball and enjoying it as I do but knowing all along, that one hit was going to be the example I needed to remind me that my God is concerned about all the details in my life, even the seemingly unimportant ones. Week after week God heard my prayer for my son to be a successful hitter, but would I have recognized God’s involvement had A.J gotten a hit every time I prayed that prayer? God is so awesome; my words can’t really explain the joy I feel when I recall how thoughtful God is of me, how He loves me and how He wants to be included in every part of my life.
"...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”