The Fire

A week or so ago Alex had his last T-Ball game of the season.  Bitter sweet: bitter because he really enjoys it (and so do I); sweet because – to be honest – having to get everyone fed and to a game by 5:45 on the other side of town really cramps our style.  Poor us, right?  Anyway…last game.

Usually our team is the last to arrive.  We straggle in until about 5:55 and the game is already starting.  Not us, of course…we’re there early to play catch, but everyone else is pokey.  But not this game – this, as Alex put it, was game seven of the world series.  Nobody wanted to miss any of this monumental struggle of the tiny titans.  So it was our Marlins team versing (that’s how Alex puts it) the Twins.

The Twins coach was in a tough spot this day: his kids straggled in late, whoever was in charge of bringing their bats, balls, tee, and helmets showed up late, and…he seemed a bit grumpy by the whole thing – understandably so.  These are volunteers (I think), and if they’re paid, it’s not enough.

We made a deal to share equipment and got underway.  Now our team has a couple of parents who help out around the field.  Dave stands on one side and I stand on the other to help kids figure out where to stand and where to throw and when to pay attention to a ball that will inevitably end up in their vacinity.  This other coach…nothing.  So he’s at a disadvantage.

Add to this that he’s taking it way too seriously.  He’s obviously a guy whose voice is naturally elevated and he’s pretty intense, but I don’t think he knows how to dial it down for a 6 year old who is only there because dad thought it would be good for him to get a team experience.

The equipment shows up halfway through the first inning and he runs a quarter mile to get to it and hurry it along – leaving his 9 kids to fend for themselves on the field.  When he gets back the inning is over and the kids are a little “out of focus”.  He is visibly flustered and starting to get more animated than normal and intense into the kids faces about all the things he has been drilling into them through the short season.

Long story short…by the end of the game: parents are a little uncomfortable, two kids have cried, and it looks as though the coach is ready to swear off baseball forever.

All the while I could see what was happening to this guy.  He was in the fire.  That’s what I think of it as.  He’s being given opportunities to be shaped and molded by difficult circumstances and it looks (to this judgmental eye) like he kind of blew it.  We all get into this situation: how will we respond to the temperature rising – especially when there seem to be 2 or 3 burners pointing in at us at once.

There’s bad news and there’s good news in this kind of situation: the bad news is that if we blow it and lose our cool or don’t show the fruit of the Spirit during the fire we tend to feel like asses and get down on ourselves later.  The good news is this: we will most certainly get another opportunity to correct our responses.  God has a way of refining us and making us more into the image of God’s Son.

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