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Faith to get in the game

December 4, 2016

A few years ago, I went to an intramural softball game with my father-in-law, Ed.

My wife’s brother was playing in the game consisting mostly of people from my in-laws’ church.

But don’t let that fool you —a lot of these church dudes could crush a softball into the parking lot without even thinking about it. No minivan in the parking lot was safe.

We got there five minutes to start, leaving enough time to pick a good spot. We busted out our lawn chairs and waited for things to get rolling.

The players on both teams were practicing when I noticed a glaring absence from the field—the umpire. Game time had arrived and nobody was actually there to call the game.

I overheard some of the players discussing it, and looks of concern spread quickly over everyone’s face.

Nobody wanted to forfeit, but they needed an umpire there to make sure the score was accurately recorded and cataloged in the system.

I know, I know…this all seemed a bit much for me too, but church softball leagues can take themselves seriously. I wasn’t about to mock the system while a bunch of large, angry softball players were close enough to swing a metal bat at me.

Everyone waited another ten minutes or so and the two captains shuffled over to each other for a little talk.

We all learned what they were discussing when one of them turned toward us and shouted, “Does anyone here want to call the game for us?”

My father-in-law knows baseball pretty well, so I wasn’t surprised when he responded saying, “I’ll do it!”

Ed rose from his chair, walked behind home plate, and began calling balls and strikes as the game got underway.

I remember thinking in that moment, “Hmm…Ed has gone from a casual spectator of this softball game to being very much involved in its outcome.”

Faith isn’t a spectator sport.

The kind of experience Ed went through happened a lot in the Bible, too.

No, I’m not talking about softball games and lawn chairs.  I’m referring to making the move from being a casual spectator to active participant. Here’s an example from Mark 4:35-41:

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Up until this time, the disciples had just been observers of what Jesus did in His ministry on earth. Now they’ve hopped in a boat and sailed into a storm they didn’t ask for.

Their faith is tested by crazy events in nature, and unfortunately for them, they have come up wanting in the Belief Department.

I have a tendency to scoff at the disciples when I read stories like this and murmur to myself, “Yeah, you punks. Where is your faith? Jesus has been revealing Himself to you and you still don’t believe yet?”

It’s easy to sit and be a spectator but God doesn’t want us to live a mundane existence of sitting and watching the world go by.

I’m always quick to point out the flaws of the disciples, but in my heart I know I would’ve been the same way if I were in their sandals.

We’re all faced with spiritual moments in life that take us from casual spectators to active participants, especially when it comes to being a person of faith.

Yes, we had faith to accept the payment for the penalty of our sins when we became Christians, but do we have that same day-to-day, trusting-God-no-matter-what kind of faith? Probably not.

Walking by faith is something we talk a lot about in Christian circles. The problem, however, is we just don’t do it very much.

When faced with a challenge to be involved in the work of the gospel, it’s going to take proactive faith. And that lifestyle can be extremely difficult or awkward to live out.

It’s easy to sit and be a spectator—the chairs are comfortable, and we don’t feel like we’re in danger. But God doesn’t want us to live a mundane existence of sitting and watching the world go by.

He wants us to participate in the action so badly, He’s willing to shake us out of our apathy and lead us into a storm—just like He did with the disciples. It takes faith to do that.

Faith is something God values in a way I don’t think I will ever fully comprehend.

I may not necessarily understand it completely, but I know God wants me to live in it and walk by it moment-by-moment. If I do, I get a glimpse of the abundant life Jesus talked about.

I can live life to its fullest because I’m involved in the game, I’m doing what I was created to do, and I’m inside the will of my Father God.

Here’s hoping when God calls us we all respond with, “I’ll do it!”

I pray we all quickly get up from our lawn chairs to walk out behind home plate and get involved in the game. Isaiah 6:8 is a good reminder of what our heart attitude should be:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”