“Because it’s one, two three strikes you’re out at the old ball gammmmme!”
Strikeouts happen all of the time in baseball. The batter looks at the pitcher and based on the direction of the ball he decides whether or not to take a swing. Sometimes the bat makes contact with the ball, and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way…
You miss 100% of the shots (or swings in this case) you don’t take. This is true in baseball but is not necessarily always true in life.
The umpire calls a strike and signals you to get off the field because you’ve blown your chance. So for the batter, three strikes means that they cannot take anymore swings at that time.
While the umpire gives you three strikes, God gives you unlimited strikes.
I could go in so many directions with the above statement and the obvious one would be that there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of God, but I want to talk about how God prompts you to do something and He gives us more than once chance to do it.
Recently I ran into someone I know from a group I am apart of. This person had been ill and absent from the meetings for several weeks so when I saw her at the store, I knew I needed to say “hi”.
I will admit I can be so awkward when it comes to saying hi to people I know in a store. Especially if I don’t know you THAT well but I feel like I need to say hi, let’s just say small talk is not my thing. (I sometimes wait for the other person to say hi to me or make eye contact first.)
After saying “hi” and making small talk for a few minutes, I heard a small, still voice inside of me saying “pray for her”. To which I quickly replied, ” Here? Not in the middle of the store Lord, what will everything think?”
“You need to pray for her”
“No it’s too awkward here to do that”. I resisted and said goodbye to her and removed myself from the situation in hopes to quiet the voice in me that was gradually becoming louder and more persistent.
Let me just say The only thing more awkward than the initial encounter with someone is multiple encounters with the same person AFTER first saying goodbye.
Oh yeah, and that is exactly what happened. After I left that part of the store and went across to another part, I ran into her not once more, or twice more, but THREE times more! I politely smiled the first time, but the second and third time I just looked down and avoided eye contact.
“Now’s your chance, this is a sign to pray for her now.”
“No I’m in a rush I need to get out of here. I’ll see her tomorrow and prayer for her then in a more appropriate place.”
I left the store that day already beating myself up for not listening to the Holy Spirit that was telling me to pray, but justified my actions by saying I would be sure to pray for her tomorrow during the meeting. She wasn’t at the meeting the next day.
I sat with my disobedience, upset that I had been so afraid of praying for her in public. As I led small groups that week and completed each of the lessons, I was convicted again of that situation that I had “struck out” on. I blew my chance and I wasn’t going to have the chance to make it up and redeem myself.
Or was I?
This past week I was at the meeting again and she was there! There was so much hustle and bustle during the meeting that there was no chance for me to pull her aside and pray, and when there was a chance to pray for her in front of everyone I wasn’t the one who initiated it, I simply followed what others were doing.
“There we go Lord I prayed for her, I know it wasn’t in the way you wanted me to, but I did it and it’s done.” (Now leave me alone!)
I actually was outside and halfway to my car when I stopped and said to myself (out loud) “No I’m going to do this, I am not going to miss this chance too.”
So with all my nerves and anxious thoughts creeping up inside of me, I turned around and went back into the building. I approached her and told her about the tug of war I had been having with myself over not praying for her when I saw her at the store, and asked to do so at that moment.
She was a little caught off guard, but immediately said I could pray for her. One thing she said that broke my heart was,” I thought you didn’t like me.” Ouch, I had thought she didn’t like ME! I thought she purposely overlooked me because she didn’t like me. We had started out on such a strong note and for whatever reason that had dissipated. Over the course of the next few minutes we sat there holding each other and praying and crying together.
I am reminded of a few things from that experience:
- Satan likes to turn people against each other, and his tactics are not always hate and malice, but isolation and rejection.
She felt I didn’t like her, I felt she didn’t like me and because of that we basically both ignored each other.
- One act of obedience is never in isolation, there is always more happening (and consequently more steps He calls you to take)
The call for me to pray for her wasn’t just to pray for her but resulted in more that I could ever imagine.
- Sometimes you think you are doing something for someone else, but God also finds a way to bless you in the process.
Her sweet words were what my spirit needed to hear. I was blessed by her words of encouragement.
- God is a God of more than one chance, there is always a way to make it right.
God didn’t give up on me after I the first time, He gave me other chances and also keep stirring me inside to compel me to do what He prompted me to do.
- God is a God of reconciliation, He yearns to reconcile our relationships with others.
I had no idea that she thought I didn’t like her, it hurt my heart to imagine that something thought I didn’t like them. I told her that I loved her and that I was glad that we were having this conversation to put us back on the right track.
- God is a God of redemption, I was able to redeem myself from not listening before to being able to follow through with what God was telling me to do.
Leaving there finally after having that conversation, it was more than just “There I prayed for her I listened to finally!” (Patting myself on the back) It was, “Wow God YOU DID THIS! You created space and opportunity for us to come together and bless each other, you used me to make a move but you used me for much more than that.”
Our obedience is never JUST for our benefit. God always has others in mind when we act in accordance to what He has called us to.
Conversely, our sin is never just hurting us. A repeated, continual sin that you think you are successfully hiding from everyone doesn’t JUST affect you, it affects other people around you whether you realize it or not.
There is no such thing is secret sin.
Sweet friends, there are certain things in life that we have limited amount of chances to act on, but there are also other opportunities that God is gracious enough to give us again and again (until our stubbornness has subsided and we finally act on it!)
Lord thank you for being a God of second, third and even fourth chances. For even when I think I’ve blown it you come and show me another way and give me more grace. Thank you for the spirit inside of me that makes me uncomfortable enough to DO SOMETHING about it. Thank you that the way you prompt me to act creates a rippling effect in myself and others around me. I pray that you continue to show me and lead me to situations or conversations in which I can create a ripple effect.
What will you do knowing that you can’t “strikeout” with God? Please continue the conversation in the comments below!
Blessings sweet friends!