Some years ago I helped coach the Little League baseball team on which our son, Robbie, was playing. As an assistant, my place was in the dugout with the boys when we were at bat. I remember one game in which we were getting beaten pretty good. The other team had an aggressive pitcher, a bigger boy who was throwing the ball hard, and he had our boys intimidated. He was grinning and cocky. He had actually hit one of our boys with an early pitch, and it was a painful experience they all felt. Although our boy was on base, when they saw the speed of this delivery, they were frankly frightened to take their turn at the plate.
Seeing what was happening, I remember telling them something like this: “You know boys, all that pitcher needs is for just one of you to step up to the plate and smack one back right at him.” Robbie was our next batter, and to my surprise he had been listening to what I said! Catching the pitcher off-guard, he swung powerfully at the first pitch and drove it straight back at the pitcher, who recoiled with fright and bobbled the ball, allowing each of our runners to advance. Having seen that, our boys’ demeanors changed immediately. I watched them, one after the other, step up to the plate and manhandle the pitcher, who quickly grew fearful and intimidated. After several strong hits, he was removed from the game. The whole tenor of the game had changed.
Life is a lot like that baseball game. Satan deals us terror after terror. He throws us one curve after another and sometimes strikes us with the pitch. We become cowardly, frightened and paralyzed. All the while, all we needed to do was confidently step up to the plate and rely upon the mighty God of the universe. “If God be for us, who can be against us,” (Rom. 8:3)?
The speed at which troubles arrive can be intimidating and crippling. This is especially true if we get stung by one or two of them. It’s no fun to get drilled by a fast pitch. But in preparing for the next one, the worst thing we can do is think about what it felt like to be hit. We have to somehow think about what it’s going to feel like to make solid contact with the next pitch and send it sailing out of the park. With God’s help, we can do that.
Did you know that when we stand up to Satan, stare him down and refuse to be intimidated by him, he backs away? The Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” (Jas. 4:7). Take confidence from your “teammates” in the church. “Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom withstand stedfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world,” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
It would have been easy for those boys to cower back in the dugout, or fearfully watch the pitches fly by, as they were struck out one by one. But they turned the tables on the bully boy and changed the momentum of the game that day. With the help of our Lord, we can do the same thing in life.
Don’t let fear keep you from “stepping up to the plate.” Spend a few moments envisioning the possibilities, and pray for the Lord’s guidance and protection.”Ask the Savior to help you, comfort strengthen and keep you. He is willing to aid you, he will carry you through.” Our problem usually is not the inability to accomplish things, but the fear which grips us and keeps us from even trying.
I don’t know whatever happened to that cocky pitcher. I lost track of him and his team, and I don’t know whether he continued playing baseball or not. I am pretty sure of one thing however. If he did keep playing, and pitching, he had to learn some humility. If he had any continuing career on the mound, it was because he learned that the faster he throws it in there, the faster it is liable to come back out. And hopefully he learned that bullying is very, very unwise. But I am thankful, in a way, that he acted the way he did on that particular day. It gave our boys a chance to learn an important lesson, which I hope has stuck with them all these years.
Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to imagine the possibilities and take your best shot. Don’t be afraid to step up to the plate!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.