Errors in baseball and life

By Becky Spell Vann - Contributing columnist

Can spirituality be found on a morning walk or a game of baseball? This story started long, long ago and will continue until we are here no more. There are many beliefs that bewilder weary travelers in this world who long for perfection on their journeys. The simple story of God loving us enough to send His Son to die for our sins shows the power of grace. The joy of living in love while experiencing God’s handiwork is where spirituality abides. God’s loving presence — patiently guiding our steps, protecting, providing, and pouring out stories to share — is a daily, divine present we often miss. He sent this story (while visiting my son and his wife in Tampa last weekend) to soothe my aching heart, to show me love trumps errors, and to share it with you.

Taking a long weekend to fly to Tampa and spend time with Clint and Jamie seemed impossible with the long list of things to do everywhere I looked and the frustration of making decisions and errors that tossed my thoughts “like waves of the sea”! Anyone else feeling overextended with piles of promises and things to do before you can go home and enjoy His gifts? Robert Frost penned it perfectly in one of my favorite poems, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and things to do before I sleep.” He longed to stop and enjoy the journey but being busy kept him moving on and missing out on blessings. Are you with me, with Frost, with genuine desire to do – yet, a deep longing to rest and abide in Christ? When will we just get off the horse (car, plane, boat, subway) and enjoy the gifts from God we take for granted?

Thankfully, I listened to the stirring in my heart, headed south to see my children, had a great time, and heard from the Great I Am while walking, reading, and watching baseball games. God’s amazing grace and Fatherly guidance helped me see the spirituality of imperfection up close and personal.

Walking down Bayshore Boulevard with my family lit me up inside with a glowing warmth like the Florida sunshine I was basking in with exceedingly great joy. I took in every detail as we walked and talked, especially one lovely home with a little library at the edge of the front lawn. In amazement, I admired what looked like a huge birdhouse on a pedestal. Inside were dozens of books with a sign that beckoned people to take one and be blessed. I pushed the door open and paused with wonder as my hand pulled a bland-colored book from the neatly arranged pile. My heart stirred while reading the title, “The Spirituality of Imperfection – Storytelling and the Search for Meaning”.

“Should I take it?” I asked. “I really feel led to read this book…but I just started a new one, “God’s Guest List,” and I can’t read this one before I leave Tampa but I want to read it…!”

We agreed the homeowners meant for their book exchange to be a blessing; Clint and Jamie promised to take one of their books back to the little library later. So, I headed home with a present put in place for me to read, ponder, and share with you from a loving Father whose presence and perfect timing are phenomenal.

After a day filled with good fun, food, and family fellowship, the three of us settled down on their comfy couch to watch game four of the World Series. Believe me, I was in hog heaven for I love spending time with my family and sports events. Memories of watching the World Series with my Daddy give special meaning to the games that grab our attention every October.

My new book (actually an old one that would become a blessing bigger than I could imagine) lay on the coffee table as we cheered our teams through the first inning. Errors, made by players whose perfection propelled them to this esteemed place of play, caused us to gasp in disbelief. Close up replays showed teammates mouthing our own comments (probably yours too), “WHAT?”

With errors of this important game in question and fans cheering wildly, an inner feeling beckoned me to browse through my book while waiting. Wow! I read the introduction and gasped in amazement while giving glory to God right there in their living room. I had to read it to Jamie and Clint right then. God was speaking to me through a book He put in place and I have to share it with you right now, for such a time as this!

This message was on page one of His gift. “Baseball teaches us, or has taught us, how to deal with failure. We learn at a very young age that failure is the norm in baseball and, precisely because we have failed, we hold in high regard those who fail less often – those who hit safely in one out of three chances and become star players. I also find it fascinating that baseball, alone in sports, considers errors to be part of the game, part of its rigorous truth.” Francis Vincent Jr. (Commissioner of Baseball)

The timing of this book and ballgame and being down because of my recent errors proved the power of God’s love and looking after His children is divinely delicious. He is spot on it and we are wise to get over stuff that Satan uses to keep us all stirred up and separated from the good life and gifts God gives.

Errors are part of the game and perfection is an impossible goal in baseball and day to day living. Things of the world pull, penetrate, and put us on pedestals that steal precious time with the Lord and loved ones. We cannot do it all and definitely not do it all without error. So, why do we beat ourselves up?

Watching the second baseman make two errors back to back, brought empathy for this man in uniform I did not know but felt his heartache. We have all been in that place where our errors caused pain and problems for us and others. Those who cheered with support one inning earlier booed with disgust as the accomplished player made his way back to his place on the field with a purpose to overcome the damage done and prove he was worthy of his position. Been there, right?

Often, we feel like running off the playing field of life when we do not perform with expectations that scream “perfection” and leaving it all behind. In times like this… a personal, precious relationship with the only One who was perfect prevails and propels us forward in grace, forgetting our errors, fixing our heartaches, and finding a place in our hearts to dwell. But only if we make the choice to believe and invite Jesus into our hearts. With Him, we will win every time…especially when it all ends here and we head to Heaven.

This lovely, life changing, long day when we gained an extra hour, the World Series with extra innings and errors ended in New York City, gifts God gave me got my undivided attention, and new stories stir strong and deep inside with significance…for such a time as this causes me to come closer to Christ.

I am in awe and anxious to share stories of help and hope as we all search for meaning and enjoy our journeys.

Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for the Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.

By Becky Spell Vann

Contributing columnist

Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for the Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.

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