Thursday, January 13. 2022
Fear kept me from being very good at sports when I was a youngster. I remember the very first time I ever tried out for little league baseball. Playing baseball was my dream. My grandfather used to play catch with me and taught me how to throw the ball straight and with a curve. My mom used to tell me stories of the days she would watch the Cleveland Indians at the stadium on the shores of Lake Erie. She even took me there for a game. I remember my boyhood hero – Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers – and in my office I still have a baseball hat he autographed. I dreamed of playing baseball like Mr. Kaline.
But when I took the field that first day of tryouts, I was scared silly. I had a baseball glove that was ok, but when I saw the gloves the other boys had, fear told me I would not be able to compete. Some of them wore baseball shoes, and I only had tennis shoes. Again, fear of not measuring up overwhelmed me. Most of them had been playing organized ball for a couple of years already, and I was the outsider and didn’t fit into their group. Fear told me I would not be able to compete. I saw the way they caught the ball and threw the ball and stood with confidence at the plate swinging hard at the fastballs the coach threw at them. I knew I would not be able to compete. I was afraid because I had decided that my value and acceptance as a person came from my performance on the baseball diamond, and that performance was about to be sub-standard. Fear told me I was sub-standard.
I was living in a spirit of fear – fear of what others would think of me, fear of not measuring up to someone else’s standard, and fear of having to face the reality of my poor performance. My dream was becoming a nightmare.
But then something happened – I made the team. I was assigned the position of second baseman. I found out later that everyone made a team, and that second base was the best position to put a poor player because other players could cover for him. But none of that mattered – I was on the team. I still had lots of fear. What if I miss a ball and blow the game? What if I strike out and blow the game? Every thought I had was from the negative perspective. I knew I could not compete.
I hated that first year, but my dream did not die. I played every year after that, and fell more deeply in love with the game. I began to play with confidence, and the day came when I fulfilled my dream (to a degree) and played outfield like Al Kaline on several Amateur Baseball League teams in North and South Dakota, making it to the state championships several times, and leading my team in hitting.
To accomplish all of that, I had to conquer my fears.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
I overcame fear by discovering my value and acceptance in Christ and not in people’s opinions or standards. To remind me of that every day, I still have a trophy from 1967, the third year I played baseball, and my team won the city championship. Not because I was so good, but because I was learning to not live in fear. I was learning to live in the power of a sound mind. That didn’t come from wearing a batting helmet but by wearing the helmet of salvation. In Christ I am complete, and that removes the obstacle of fear.