I remember the first time I took my 7-year old son, Landon to a professional baseball game. We took the 45-minute drive from our home in Boca Raton, Florida to the old Marlins Stadium (a.k.a. Dolphin Stadium, Landshark Stadium, or whatever name sounded cool that week.) I remember seeing his face as we walked aimlessly around the outside of the stadium, attempting to locate the entrance. He was in awe, shocked and filled with wonder – not really sure exactly what to think.
After locating the entrance, we made our way to our seats…front row in right field. As soon as we came around the corner and saw the beauty of the green grass, Landon’s face of wonder quickly grew into a face of amazement. He was content and satisfied to be there. The Cincinnati Reds (the real reason we went to a Florida Marlins game) were taking batting practice, and after watching in awe for several minutes, I picked my jaw up out of my lap and went to work on getting Landon a baseball. With the crack of the bat, Cincinnati Reds’ second baseman, Brandon Philips, hit one to deep right field. Starting pitcher, Mike Leake, scooped up the ball and looked up at me. I know how loud and obnoxious my voice can be, so I knew he had heard me yelling the entire time. He probably felt sorry for me and wanted me to just shut up and go away, but I was determined to get Landon a baseball. I remember exactly what I said, “Come on Mike…toss one up for the little guy!”
I was blown away at his response. “What is his name?” asked Mike.
I was in such shock, I really didn’t know how to respond. I stuttered and finally muttered, “Laaannnddonn.”
“Well, here is one for the little guy – Landon,” Mike exclaimed with enthusiasm.
And with those words Mike Leake tossed a Rawlings Major League batting practice baseball to my son, Landon!
Not many occurrences have topped the emotions, enthusiasm, and excitement that went into and came out of that simple toss! Landon could barely contain himself. Although he was only four at the time, he recognized the significance of what had just occurred. I was practically in tears. If it were not for the Reds playing, we could have gone home. The night was complete! Just to see the look on my son’s face brought a wave of energy and exhilaration to me. Mike was also thrilled, and at the young age of 22, he knew what he had just accomplished. He had helped mold the bond between a father and son!
As we watched the game, all Landon constantly asked, “Daddy, who was it again that tossed me the ball?” He continuously said, “We should call mommy and tell her all about it!” The game didn’t matter to him. He was caught up in the delight of a connection he made with a young man he may never see again.
For me, baseball is one of my “happy places.” It is where I go to get away from the hectic agenda called life. The green grass, the chants from the beer man, the sounds of fans pretending to know something about the game of baseball, and the constant crack of the bat make it one of the most enjoyable experiences I know. I get worked up over the managers, the umpires, and the stupidity of the announcers. I become emotional and excited with every shift of momentum. It is truly the only sport where one second can change the entire outcome of the game. All it takes is one pitch. During a 162-game schedule, one pitch can be the determining factor for some teams making the playoffs or staying home for November. But in all of the baseball games I have played, watched on television, and have watched in person, the most thrilling moment I have encountered was the simple throw from Mike Leake to Landon!
The question becomes… Why? What made that artless toss so thrilling? Yes, it created a tighter bond between a father and a son, but it was a baseball! Today, I could not even tell the whereabouts of the baseball. I am sure Marley, our Golden Retriever, has bit into and slobbered all over it. I can guarantee it was at one time part of a heated discussion between Landon and Lorelei, our oldest daughter. And I am sure it has been hit a time or two by a Wiffle bat in the backyard. But why do we place so much emotion, excitement, and enthusiasm on such simple events?
I have challenged my own life with this. Where is my excitement, passion, and enthusiasm for my relationship with God, for His Word, and for the plans He has for me? Why am I not constantly seeking ways to tighten the bond I have with Jesus Christ? Why cannot the “Mike Leake’s” of this world see the crazy enthusiasm I have for living out my relationship with my Savior?
It is so easy to get excited and jump up and down while watching a baseball game, a football game, a concert, or a wedding, but why don’t we carry that same excitement over into an authentic life with Christ?
I am currently walking this unfinished journey every day! I do not have the answers to these questions solved, but I do have a growing relationship with the God who can give me the strength, courage, and wisdom I need to answer them. I desire to be excited – in word and deed – about my relationship with Jesus Christ. I want others to look at me as a “Jesus Freak.” I do not want to hold back from sharing the Gospel to Mike Leake, Mike Luke, or Mike Lake. The quicker we all realize this, the more impact we can have on the millions of lost souls around us. May we be passionate about the things of God and His perfect plan!