In our league, this is the first year of live pitching. I enjoy baseball. I enjoy hitting infield. I love seeing the boys improve in fielding and hitting. But I have never pitched in my life! So, that has been a real challenge.
However, in working with these young pitchers I've learned a principle that I believe applies very well to the Christian life and this is this: Next Pitch.
You see, sometimes a 9 year old throws a terrible pitch. It bounces on the ground or flys over the batter's head or maybe even hits him! But once that ball leaves the pitcher's hand, there's nothing he can do about it. He can't allow a wild pitch to turn into two wild pitches. He's got to settle down, forget about the poor pitch, remember his mechanics, and throw again.
Sounds similar to what Paul says in Philippians 3 doesn't it? "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead..." (Philippians 3:13).
This isn't an excuse for sin or making light of it. But it is a realization that you can't get back mistakes you've made. You've got to own them, learn from them, and repent of them. But if you are in Christ you must keep straining forward. You can't let past sins define your trajectory. In Christ we are a new creation. You are no longer who you once were.
Furthermore, you can't focus on defeating 3 sins ahead. You can't fight what you don't know is coming so to speak. You must strain forward where you are. If you're 35 you can't focus on what your walk will be when your 60. You've got to focus on the next pitch. I'm not dogging long term planning obviously! I'm just saying sufficient for the day is its own troubles. And thankfully, dealing with these things now will help you when you're 60.
But this leads me to another point in this analogy. The same principle of 'next pitch' also applies when my pitchers throw a strike. You see, in baseball, there are no trophies for 1 strike. If a pitcher throws one strike, it doesn't mean he'll throw 3! In fact I've seen boys throw TWO strikes and still walk a batter. It's all about the next pitch. Remember what you did last pitch and then do it again.
How does this apply to the Christian life?
What I've noticed in my own life and the lives of others is sometimes we try to use one day or more commonly one 'season of life' to coast us into the next. So a great start to our year of bible reading can sometimes lead us to slack off in May. Or a great few weeks of prayer might cause us to slack off one day. But Paul says we are to be 'straining forward'. We don't look back and say "I USED to be disciplined or cultivate habits of grace". What are you doing TODAY? To switch analogies, being ahead 28-3 in the third quarter doesn't equal a Super Bowl ring.
While yesterday's bible reading bears future fruit, the lack of today's bible reading can have consequences. So, focus on the next pitch. The Christian life isn't about how well we began but how we finish. And we don't finish well without cultivating godliness today. Straining forward today. Learn from both past defeats and failures but leave them where they belong: in the past. And don't let fear of future failure or overconfidence in future victories distort what needs to be done today. Focus on the next pitch.
The point of today's post has been that much of the Christian life has to be about right now. No doubt that the past and future are immensely important but we live in neither of those spheres. We live in the present. The last pitch is gone. What are you going to throw now?