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Master, mission, mate

Albert steps up to the plate with confidence.

He smiles and waves to the adoring crowd, smacks his bat on the dirt, wiggles his rear end, sticks out his tongue, and lets loose with his mightiest swing at the ball.

It’s a line drive hit, and after slinging his bat to the side, runs off as if a monster were chasing him.

Only one problem: He is running to the wrong base!

Instead of running to 1st, he frantically sprints to 3rd. The coaches yell, the fans scream–but to no avail. Oblivious to their cries, Albert thinks, just for a nanosecond, he safely made it to 3rd base (evidenced by his enlarged chest and proud grin) but crumbles into instant confusion when he is tagged “OUT!”

Is this Albert Pujols with the St. Louis Cardinals we’re describing, who accidentally got turned around blasting one of his superman shots?

No, this is actually five year old Albert Deavers on the Little League team “Mighty Warriors”. Welcome to the world of t-ball where this comedy of errors plays out with almost every young slugger who steps up to bat!

Yes, we can laugh and make fun of Albert. We can call him blind and deaf because he was unable (or unwilling!) to listen to every person in the ballpark.

We might be wise, though, to hold off for a moment and look at ourselves instead…because the little guy is playing baseball like most of us do life. Let me explain.

God has designed a simple set of rules; a heavenly game plan if you will—a specific path He wants each of us to run.

But He loves us enough to allow us to either choose to do things His way—or attempt it on our own.

Whether from defiance or ignorance, most of us learn the hard way, and like young Albert, suffer the consequences.

In an attempt to save you from the heartache of violating God’s plan, I’d like to offer some advice on how to find the right leader to guide you through this maze we call life; how to connect you to the God-ordained labor He has in store for you to fulfill; and finally how to discover your life-long lover, that special person serving as your closest companion in the journey.

An easy way to remember the lineup is: MasterMission, and Mate.

Not only is God asking us to make the right decisions in those three areas, He insists that the commitments be made in that particular order.

Sadly, many people pull a “Little Albert” and dash off toward third anxiously trying to find a steady date or spouse rather than starting off running toward and securing first base.

Some step to the plate of life and ignore first base altogether and attempt to run straight to second, thinking pursuing a career has priority over everything else.

With those preliminaries in mind, I would like to help you run the bases of life (according to God’s rulebook!) and use our infamous t-ball diamond illustration to do so:

1st Base: Make Jesus Christ Your Master

Bob was a successful businessman who didn’t know what to do with his remaining years. He hired a consultant who drew a box on a piece of paper and stated, “You can only put ONE THING in the box Bob—it’s whatever is most important to you. It’s what will drive all your choices and decisions. I will come back in an hour. Have one thing written in that box.” Bob and his wife debated between writing “family”, “business success” or “philanthropy” in the box, but finally decided to simply inscribe: “Jesus Christ”. Better late than never, Bob finally got to first base, made Jesus the Master of all, and it radically changed him, his family, his business, his everything!

How about you? What have you written in your box? What is MOST important to you? The very first place to begin is to decide What (or Who!) will control your life and be the determining factor in all the other decisions and directions laid before you during your short stay on this planet. If you want to do this life (and the next) God’s way then you will place the Lord of the Universe, Jesus Christ, on the throne of your heart right now…and forever. There can only be one Lord, one King, one Master who is calling the shots. Author A.W. Tozer put it well when he declared, “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” If there’s some possession, pursuit, or passion that we have not subjugated under His rule we dare not call ourselves a true Jesus follower. If there is some relationship, secret sin, or past failure that is keeping you from turning everything over to Jesus, let Him know. Pour out your heart to Him, turn from a self-directed life and ask God to give you the power to love and obey Jesus every day.

As a young college student I wrote out and taped Luke 6:46 to the ceiling above my upper bunk, confronting me each morning and reminding me before lights out: “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I say?” Jesus asks us there. A haunting passage for those of us who are tempted to re-take control of the throne of our heart. If you have never surrendered your whole heart, your hopes and dreams, your whole life to the Savior of your soul, there will never be a better time than now. Don’t procrastinate or delay because no decision is a decision. Choose to write Jesus Christ in your box, taking Him as your one and only Master. You will never regret it and that one decision radically transforms everything.

2nd Base: Make the Great Commission Your Mission

Howard, a professor taking a trip, was impressed with the way a flight attendant was handling a drunken customer. He went up to her afterwards and said, “I want to write the president of American Airlines to tell him what an outstanding job you did handling that difficult situation.” “”Oh” she said, “I don’t work for American Airlines, I work for Jesus Christ.” and she began to share her testimony and gospel with Howard.

You see this flight attendant had not only embraced the person of Jesus, but also had openly dedicated herself to the purposes of Jesus. If first base is a sold-out commitment to Christ as the leader of your life, then the next step in your journey is to find and fulfill the labor He has called you to; an eternal mission that honors and glorifies Him. To love Him is to love what He feels strongly about—and of course—He demonstrated that by dying for all men and women everywhere. Jesus promised, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” in Mt. 4:19. The closer I know and obey the Lord and His Word the more desire and fruit I will see in my witness to others. Adversely, if I am not engaged in seeking to win others for Christ, it is clear I am not truly following the Lord.

The mission I speak of here is not a particular job or profession. God is not in heaven worrying you will choose to be a mechanic rather than a missionary, or live in Indianapolis rather than India. No, He has a much bigger agenda: that you would dedicate your heart and soul, your time, talent, and treasures to fulfilling the Great Commission He has given all believers. Regardless of how you choose to support yourself vocationally, this command Jesus gave applies to all of us: “Go and make disciples of all the nations” in Mt. 28:18. There He promises you His power and His presence if you will be obedient to reproducing the life of Christ into others.

What mission in life have you embraced? What is the work you are seeking to fulfill? Why do you get up each morning—to accomplish what? Is it tied to the vision and passion of God to see His name and fame taken to the ends of the earth? If that is not the determining factor behind how you make your choices and decisions, it could be your thinking (and living!) is way too small. Find someone who has been on second base for a while and can help you learn how to build relationships with others, share your faith, lead people to Christ, and make disciples. As you watch, learn, and imitate, God will use you to be part of the solution, rather than the problem, in this dark world we live in.

3rd Base: Allow God to Bring Along Your Mate

Brandy was an attractive college student with many young men pursuing her. Even though a Christian, she spent much more of her time on her outward appearance (hair, makeup, clothing, tanning, exercise, etc…) than she did developing her inner (spiritual) beauty. She married her boyfriend at graduation, got a job, set up house, to now face the “real world.” Later, reflecting back, she realized she got an “A+” in her social life and popularity during college, but a solid “D-“ when it came to diligently seeking the Lord and leaving behind any kind of legacy of changed lives for Christ.

Yes, Brandy felt remorse about wasting her college years, but she was just following the crowd, thinking she could skip first and second base and run directly to third. By choosing to do things her way instead of God’s, she squandered the opportunity to fully engage the right master and mission in life, and to do itbefore choosing a mate. Now, the emptiness of her marriage was a painful reminder that she had wed a man who, like her, had not put the person and purposes of Jesus Christ ahead of dating and marriage.

Do not be deceived. If you are single, there will be a multitude of other “eligibles” roaming around hoping to either meet “The One” or just available to meet “Anyone” who will take them! Desperate to snag a date or spouse they develop chameleon-like super powers, able to instantly transform their values and words to adapt to whoever may be seated on the couch (or pew) next to them. Beware! The only surefire way to know what someone will be like in thefuture is to look at the track record from their past. Talk is cheap, but if you can clearly observe someone who, for years, has wholeheartedly made following Jesus and the giving of themselves to love, serve, win, and disciple others, the overriding priority of life…then you may have a real winner on your hands!

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for marriage. In fact it was God’s idea! “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” (Gen. 2: 18). Adam did not feverishly look around for a wife. No. God not only made him a wife, but then brought her to him! Do you think you can trust the Lord enough to allow Him to bring along the right person in the right way at just the right time? Or will you choose to take matters into your own hands and somehow make it happen? God has your best interests at heart more than you do! He knows full well what kind of life-long mate you need—so let Him do the choosing.

In the meantime, what if you were to focus more on friendships than romances, being content and secure enough in your singleness to major on getting to know Jesus and impacting others for the Kingdom? I know it sounds ancient, but I was 28 before I got married, but those were not “waiting” years for me, they were “preparing” years. I was seeking to use every available moment to build the deepest devotional and ministry foundation I possibly could. I knew that if I could develop a strong Word-based, Spirit-led relationship with God flowing out into a fruitful labor of evangelism and disciple-making, that I might (might!) be ready for the Lord to bring along my life partner. I was attempting to be a Matthew 6:33 man, “seeking first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things would be added to me.”

Believing God, I had chosen not to take any of the exit ramps the world had to offer, but instead walked the narrow middle path of seeking the King and His Kingdom. As I progressed down that road I would meet other believers who were loving and laboring for Jesus too. One day my eyes were opened to a fellow traveler who for years had been making similar choices and sacrifices as myself, and in the process, developed the same beliefs, values, convictions, and goals.  Her name was Carol, and it was obvious the Lord was the one who brought this friendship (and later romance!) into my life, but it was in His timing, and in His way—not mine! Now, because we waited for God’s will, and chose to run the bases according to His plan, Carol and I are best friends, ministry team-mates, and life-long lovers.

Will you make a decision today? Settle things right now—that you will play this game of life according to God’s rules, beginning by:

  1. Fixing your eyes on Jesus (and nothing else!) in order to make Him your MASTER, the pre-eminent one in your life.
  2. Then partnering with Jesus to reach out and make disciples of all nations, fulfilling your God-ordained MISSION on this planet.
  3. Lastly, trusting the lover of your soul to create and deliver just the right spouse to you—a MATE beyond your expectations.

This life is a little like T-Ball and the God of the universe is not only the creator of it all, but the umpire too. If you run the bases of life His way, and in His order, at the end of your years here, when you safely cross home plate, the Lord will be there to make His final call: “Well done My good and faithful servant!”