With warm weather rolls around, my thoughts turn back the hands of time to summers past. Summers as a kid. How excited we were to finally celebrate the last day of school and the beginning of freedom to do whatever we wanted for the next couple of months.
Fond memories of those summer days and nights float up to the surface of my mind. And some of those memories involve the game of baseball. My neighborhood pals and I would play baseball in our yard and often times, my father would join us. Occasionally, even my mom would get in on the fun.
My next-door friends and I tagged along to their brother’s baseball games all summer long when he played Little League and later when he played on our church softball team. Summer evenings and baseball just seemed to go hand in hand.
If I close my eyes, I can still vividly picture sitting on the porch as the sun called it a day and disappeared. I can hear the crickets singing their chirping song and I can see fireflies (or lightning bugs as we called them) flickering across the yard.
But in the background, I hear something else during my reverie. The sounds of excited baseball announcers’ voices coming through the screen door. On summer evenings, Dad would listen to Pittsburgh Pirates games on the radio or watch them on TV when we were fortunate enough to have the game televised. No ESPN or exclusive sports networks back then.
Summer usually included a jaunt into the city to attend a Pirates game in person as well, first at Forbes Field and later at Three Rivers Stadium – now both baseball stadiums relegated to the past and only a memory.
Fast forward several years. Our son played summer baseball from the time he was a young’un able to swing a bat until high school. This Mama and Papa plunked themselves down on plenty of lawn chairs and bleachers watching son from Little League through Senior League. And one summer, Papa made time to help coach son’s team.
Summer, baseball, and dads. They fit together in my mind, especially as we near the June holiday honoring dads.
A couple of years ago, I was charged with writing a tribute with a baseball theme to honor dads at our church on Father’s Day. I think it’s fitting to share what I wrote then since we will celebrate this special day this Sunday. (If you’re an old-timer like me, you might notice I threw in a little reference to an old Abbott and Costello baseball comedy routine.)
You know, for dads, life is like a baseball game. It’s important as a slugger to get to first base, whether you hit a single or get walked. In a father’s life, the first base priority is focusing on the Lord.
So who’s on first? God. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
A grounder with Him advances you to second base. And the second most important thing in a dad’s life should be his wife, the mother of his children.
So what’s on second? Your wife. Ephesians 5:25 says: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
When God sent blessings your way, you slid in safely to third base. Your children are your third most important focus.
Third base? You might have said I don’t know anything about children, but the Lord gives you good instruction in His Word. Ephesians 6:4 says: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
If you’re successful at being a father, you’ve just scored a home run.
We know Dads aren’t always perfect though. Every once in a while, you might hit a foul ball and things go awry, and you may even strike out from time to time and make an error. But with prayer and the Lord’s help, you always step back into the batter’s box for another at bat.
Just as 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, you are “on your guard; standing firm in the faith; courageous and strong.’
Maybe you just bunt, because change ups come at you quickly. But you never balk at your responsibilities as a dad. You’re not down for the count. You’re always in position, fielding problems, making double plays, and often just being the catcher.
In your families, you may think you’re just the cleanup batter. But you are so much more than that. You really are the power hitter providing for your family’s safety and welfare.
In your wife’s eyes, you’re her lead runner, pinch hitter, and relief pitcher all rolled into one because you’re always on-deck to help her.
In your children’s eyes, you’re a grand slam because you are their hero that scores big time to win the game when you relay what it means to be a believer in Christ to them.
In the Lord’s eyes, three strikes doesn’t mean you’re out because He forgives you even when you veer outside the strike zone.
When the bases are loaded, and you’re at a full count, or even if you get yourself in a pickle, we know we can rely on you to get into scoring position and take care of your family and lead them in a godly way.
Proverbs 17:6 tells us: Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.
Yes, fathers, you are like a baseball game because to us, you are the diamond.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there and may God bless you!
“A Dad is your biggest fan even when you strike out.” ~ unknown