by Heather Bock
Last Saturday, my four year old had his first tee ball game.
It was a comedy of errors.
Several of the kids hit the tee more than the ball, sometimes knocking it completely down, but they ended up on first anyway. Any time any of the kids would make the ball move, most of the outfield would run in together to get it, bumping into each other in the process. During one of the first of these races, JP lost out in a battle with two other teammates to grab the ball, and he started crying, heartbroken. The next time he got the ball (I say got, not caught, because I’m not sure he, or any of the other players, ever actually caught the ball in the air), after being repeatedly encouraged to do so, he threw it half-heartedly toward first, as he was still in a temper.
After one of them would win out and obtain possession of the ball, most of the time the child would forget what to do with it. After many voices encouraged him or her to throw it to first, he or she would do so, only to have the first baseman miss it, or retrieve it and just stand there while the runner went right past.
JP wasn’t worried about going past. When he reached first, he squatted down on the base and started playing in the chalk.
My personal favorite: one little girl hit the ball, then kept a firm grip on her bat as she ran to catch the ball she had just hit.
The last hitter was a sweep batter, meaning that he or she would automatically get a home run in order to clean all the players off the bases and bring them back. JP was last twice, so he ended up with two home runs–the coaches standing on every base to encourage him to continue running the whole way (which was needed by the second home run, as he was walking, kicking the white foul line dust as he went).
The coaches had a lot of grace on those kids.
I imagined what it would be like if they forced them to strictly stay by the rules. I imagined them sending kids back to the dugout after they repeatedly hit the tee. I pictured them losing their tempers as the kids misunderstood what to do once again. And I laughed. I laughed because who wouldn’t give grace to those clueless little kids with their hats pulled cattywampus and their shirts as big as dresses half tucked into shorts as big as sails.
What is tee ball for, anyway? The purpose is for coaches (mostly volunteer fathers) to teach some littles the rudiments of how to play baseball.
I couldn’t help but think of my own heavenly Father as I watched all this.
Sometimes I cry in frustration when I mess it up, when I figuratively just can’t catch the ball. A lot of the time, I’m honestly trying to do my part but looking a little (or a lot) clueless nonetheless. When I do get the ball (i.e. I’ve started to do something right with God’s help), I’ve been known to forget what to do next. Most importantly, though, I listen for the voice of my Coach, my Daddy, and like those little bitties playing tee ball, I awkwardly bumble at obedience.
“For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust” (Ps. 103:14).
Sometimes my pride gets the better of me, and I like to think of myself as a Major League player, or at least a college player, who strikes out sometimes, who overthrows the ball now and then. But really? No, no, no. Compared to God, I’m just stepping up to the tee. And what’s the point of tee ball again? Learning.
What does God do in this analogy?
He gives instruction, then encourages me with cheers as I attempt to follow His Word.
Of course, He does have to send me to the dugout at times—four year olds do need discipline. He might chuckle at times, too, but never with derision. I imagine Him like I was on the sidelines: grinning at the awkward attempts, heart full to bursting.
“The LORD your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he shouts for joy over you” (Zeph. 3:17).