A Major League Decision!


Many years ago my nephew was a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. It was an exciting time for the entire extended family as the chance of having “one of your own” actually playing professional baseball is a once in a lifetime thing. It is quite amazing to sit in the stands, or watch on television, as the child you once bounced on your knee, is now on the mound at Veterans Stadium throwing to the likes of Mark McGuire. The entire family was thrilled and proud of him.

I recall one of the first opportunities I had to watch him pitch professionally because it presented me with a problem of biblical proportion. If you know anything about professional baseball, the exact day a pitcher throws is scheduled only a few days in advance. So it was that I found myself in a bit of a quandary one summer day when I found out that the evening he was pitching in Philadelphia, which was an hours drive from my house, fell upon an evening I had committed to speak at a church Boy Scout Camp fireside.

My entire extended family was excited and everyone had made plans on attending the game. As a church leader I had spoken at and attended many Boy Scout Camps in my day. After considering the rare opportunity it was to watch my nephew pitch, I made the decision to back out of my church commitment. Time was short as the camp was only two days away so I knew I needed to get on the phone right away to cancel. The church brother who had asked me to speak was a friend. When I dialed his number it never occurred to me that he would pick up the phone, and without me saying a word, (he had caller ID), hear him say, “Please don’t tell me you’re calling to back out of the assignment to speak. The two other speakers who had committed for the evening already did that and you are the only one I have left!” My mind raced and so I stammered a bit before I said, “Well, I do have a conflict. My nephew is pitching for the Phillies that night and my whole family is attending.” There was silence on the other end and it was during that moment of silence that my mind raced through the dilemma before me. Surely, I thought, the Lord would understand, as well as my friend, that the game is more important than a talk at a Boy Scout Camp! I mean, come on! Suddenly the covenants and obligations that I had taken upon myself in being a follower of Jesus Christ came to mind.

A couple of nights later I found myself standing and delivering a fireside talk to the young men at scout camp. I mentioned in my remarks to them that I was there that night for one reason. My mind told me that I would have preferred being at Veterans Stadium watching my nephew pitch along with my family. But my heart told me that I had a duty elsewhere that was more important and that sometimes responding to duty requires sacrifice. Particularly when it comes to our duty to God!

I don’t know if that talk meant anything to anyone attending that camp. I guess it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that all these years later I remember the feelings of having to make that decision and feeling good about my choice. Ballgames come, go, and then pass into oblivion. So do Boy Scout camps. But what lingers in each of us are the accumulation of daily decisions that each of us makes, be it good or bad. And it is those small decisions that are the building blocks that make us who we are. I recall that my nephew won “the decision” that day on the mound and it is now in the record books of man.  My decision was never recorded in the books of man, but I have hope that it is recorded in a heavenly book that is much more meaningful and lasting!


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