Like many, I started playing baseball at a pretty young age. I was around 7 or 8 the first time I played on a team, and I must say, the team I was on was pretty good.
I remember we were a good team, not because of my how many hits I had, or how many defensive plays I made. I remember it from the fact that we did not lose a single game that season. In fact, most of the games we played we would 10 run rule the other team at the minimum 3rd inning.
I’ve played on many teams in various sports through the years, and I’ve never been on a team as dominant as my first baseball team. Like I said, we won every game by a large margin. Oh, I forgot to mention, we won every game in the regular season. I wasn’t talking about the playoffs.
That year we had 2 playoff games. Of course, since we had not lost a game we were the number one seed. We played our first playoff game, and we won in usual fashion. It was a 10-run rule 3 inning game, so we went into the championship game ready to win it all.
We had already beaten the team we were playing against three times in the regular season, and only one of those games made it past the third inning. And the game that did go past the third inning only made it to the fourth before we run-ruled them. In fact, I remember hearing my mom and dad talking to each other before the championship game about how some of the parents of kids on the other teams had been complaining because our team was too good, and that the competition wasn’t fair.
For all the obviously good things that happened that year, I only remember one game. That’s right, it was the championship game. I would love to tell you I remember it because I got the game winning RBI, or that I had the game winning put out. But that would not be the truth. I remember it because it was the only game we lost all year.
We had won every game that year, but in the championship game we lost by one run. There was no reason why we should have lost that game, but we did. I remember watching the other team jump up and down, and their coach yelling out to his team, “You guys are champions.”
To this day, when I think about that season, I remember it as a losing season. Of course, my parents and our coaches tried to tell us we had nothing to be ashamed of, but I wasn’t buying it. There was no way you could have convinced me then, and there is no way you can convince me now that it was anything but a losing season.
As I look back on that experience with disdain, I must admit I learned a valuable lesson that day. I have to finish strong. No matter how well I’ve done, I must continue all the way through to the end. I can’t take anything for granted.
Isn’t this the way God asks us to treat our walk with Him? Remember what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: (NIV 1984)
Don’t give up. Don’t slow down. Don’t stop short.
Give your best, and go hard all the way to the end.
Don’t let your glorious opportunity end as the heartbreak of a losing season.