“Not a very good looking field,” my son said as we made our way over to the registration table. Even though I have been to more baseball fields than I can remember, I have never become an aficianado of field quality, so I try to make an intelligent observation by offering up something about the height of the grass and better to catch the ball than to let it get lost in that mess of green they call a field. I must have made some sense because my son chuckled and we continued on.
It is another leg on his baseball journey, another tryout, and I sit in the stands praying for God’s guidance in my son’s life. I watch as baseball players in all shapes and sizes, in all manner of baseball dress, start getting out their gear. As my son had pulled his worn bag out of the trunk I made the usual motherly query, “Don’t you have a bag that isn’t ripped?” But then I notice that his equipment is in varying states of condition from new bats to pants with worn out knees. As I watch the other players on the field I notice how the routine, the stretching, the equipment is all second nature to these young men. Years of being part of a baseball community, years of throwing a little white ball around a field, years of opening and closing a bag full of useful equipment culminate in days like today.
It made me wonder ~ was I ever part of a community where I had gear and special equipment? It occurred to me that at one time I had. I had a diaper bag. And it was filled with the typical Mom equipment: snacks, baby wipes, diapers, pacifiers, a change of clothes. When my posse, my team, got together, we all pulled our worn out bags from our rides and opened them with the same familiarity as a baseball player.
But that was years ago ~ what equipment bag do I have today? Someone from my past recently reconnected with me. Their childhood was a collection of hurts that resulted in some bad choices as an adult. They shared how these bad choices had hurt themselves and others. I thought about my pastor who has said many times ~ hurt people, hurt people. Contrary to what I thought was possible, this person made their way to church and is getting to know Jesus.
“I heard the pastor say that Jesus can forgive my sins, but I have done some pretty bad stuff. I’m not sure I believe He could really do that. I’m not sure I can forgive myself.” I could hear the confusion in their voice.
I am not a pastor, not a Bible scholar, not a counselor. Am I really prepared to be there for this person in a meaningful way? Yes, I am. I do have equipment. I do have a community. I pull out my worn Bible from my equipment bag.
“Oh, but God can forgive you and He will help you to forgive yourself. Do you have a Bible? You might want to start with the gospel of John.”
The road ahead will be challenging for my friend as they take baby steps with their faith. I am sure I will be pulling out some timely verses from God’s love letter to us to encourage them on the path. I have already reached out to my community and asked them to pull out their equipment bags to lift up this struggling new believer in prayer.
The sun eventually burned off the marine layer and now warms the baseball players who are strewn around the field with their gear: their bats and gloves, hats and bags. The day is winding down and soon the equipment will be put away. It’s useful gear, but not all the time. It serves its purpose and then gets put away till the next practice, game or tryout. But my spiritual bag never gets put away. It is useful in every situation. I don’t just use it, it equips me. It doesn’t just serve a temporary purpose here, it serves an eternal purpose. I am so grateful to God for my equipment bag, my gear and for allowing me to be a part of His community. The best part is, you don’t need to try out to get your own equipment or be on the team ~ you just need to ask Him to join. Do you want to be part of the team? Click here to learn how!
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:4-6
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. Matthew 27:27-30
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:31
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Matthew 27:35-37
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” Matthew 27:39-40
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Matthew 27:45-46
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-4
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. Matthew 27:50-51
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Passion: the object of such love and desire. Passion of the Christ.
YOU are the passion of the Christ.