Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 9th Inning

Yes, this is me before the game. Very wet!
I'm a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and have been for many years. In fact, a few weeks ago I was able to attend a baseball game at Busch Stadium. I was giddy with excitement for the opportunity to attend. The game almost didn't happen because of a huge storm that rolled through that day.

My rainy view of the Arch.
Because I'm a big fan of the team, I also watch the Cardinals play whenever they're on television. Some of their games have been incredible come-from-behind wins. One recent example was the final game of a five-game series with the Washington Nationals. The Cardinals were behind during the whole game. It seemed impossible for them to win. The Cardinals were up to bat in the 9th inning with two outs and two strikes. That's when the seemingly impossible began to happen. The Cardinals were able to score four runs to come back and win the game. It was amazing to watch.

Why am I talking about sports on this blog? After I had time to consider all that happened during that game, I realized there was some spiritual application to be gained.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that things like:

     All seemed hopeless.
          I didn't think I could hold out any longer.
               I was ready to give up.

It was shortly after these moments when God responded with:
     Needed hope to shore up the hopeless.
          An extra dose of patience for the impatient.
               An answer to prayer for someone who had nothing left to hold onto.

There have been many times like that in my own life. The older I get, the more it seems I have those moments when my spirit has grown weary. Life starts piling up around me or some things just never seems to work out the way I'd hoped. I become disappointed, frustrated, and weary. I'm ready to throw in the towel.

Just like the baseball game, the fans--including me--were ready to give up. There's no way the impossible could happen, it's too late, might as well give up. Yet, the impossible did happen. The players didn't give up. They were quietly confident in their team and their abilities.

God is sometimes very last-minute too. His timing is always perfect, yet we worry that He's not paying attention. But God may be trying to get us to a place of complete dependence on Him or He's waiting till the situation seems unsalvageable so that there's no doubt who gets the glory. And sometimes instead of giving us what we want, God gives us something we need: An encouraging word and a smile from a friend or a tiny speck of hope.

What it boils down to is that...
     God is in control.
          He hasn't forgotten us.
               He is working everything out His way.

God is able to look at every situation from His special vantage point, seeing things we can't see--including the future. We can be quietly confident in God's ability to handle whatever--I repeat, whatever--is going on. God may swoop in and do something wildly amazing at the last minute or He may just continue to provide the little things we need to keep us moving. Either way, I'm glad He's in control and not me!

One of my favorite quotes on this topic is from Cherie Hill:

"It’s been said that the hardest part of faith is the last half hour. 
Waiting on God tests us like nothing else does. 
When we’re experiencing overwhelming confusion, 
we can be certain that deliverance is just around the corner. 
The problem is that we give up just before God shows up."
from Waiting On God.

Whether it's the last half-hour or the ninth inning, our faith begins to waver and we wonder if God is going to do something. We're ready to give up. Hang in there and keep looking to God for help.

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