It can be very hard to leave home for baseball season. Last year I had a terrible time leaving, but once we get to where we are going, things are okay. I know God places you where you need to be, but I never really thought about our baseball season being used as a mission trip. I didn’t think that way until this past off-season when people from our home church in Chattanooga would comment, “We will miss y’all, but we know you will do good things on your mission.” The more I heard that, the more I felt at ease leaving my home for a while. I had an entirely different attitude about it this year.
Each Spring Training we attend a Bible Study on Tuesday Nights. The Study is led by former baseball players from the group they formed, Unlimited Potential Inc. or UPI. The Bible Study this year is several weeks on how to be disciples and how we can use baseball as our mission field to lead others to Christ. There it was again, I am on a mission. This past week we studied the Woman at the Well. I got so many things out of this story from just that one hour last Tuesday night.
We know the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), married five times and now living with a sixth man. She goes to the town well to get water. She goes at a time of day when no one will be there because she is probably gossiped about and looked down upon by the other women of the town. The men of the town probably stare and leer at her, or say dirty things to her, so she avoids them all. She approaches the well and finds Jesus there. Jesus speaks kindly to her, He is reaching out to her and offering His “Living Water.” She doesn’t really understand what He means and then He tells her that He knows all about her, knows her lifestyle. She is surprised to hear that this stranger knows such things, but her eyes are opened and she believes Jesus must be the Messiah. Her belief is such that she drops everything, running into the town to tell everyone the news that this must be the Messiah, “Come and see!” she says. You would think the people of the town would ignore her, or maybe they thought she had drawn some bad well water and it was affecting her mind, but there is something they see about her that is different, so they go. Jesus had used someone that others would consider “trash” to both teach a lesson to His disciples, and to bring people to Him. The unthinkable had happened. The outcast woman had become a disciple for Him, she was helping Him to harvest souls.
This story made me really look at myself as an imperfect human and as being a disciple. I thought about the women of the town who had probably gossiped about this heathen of a woman. I try not to gossip, but sometimes things just pour out of my mouth. The entire time the Holy Spirit is speaking to me, “Hush now. Be careful with with you are saying.” Still the words come tumbling out. In the end I feel ashamed. The other night I did just that. I made the excuse to myself that it was something weighing heavy on my mind, something for months now and I just had to get it off of my chest to someone. A few months ago I had witnessed someone who was being mean to another person because they thought of this person as someone like the Samaritan Woman. It was hurtful to watch. I thought I could do something about it, but nothing I said with kindness was taken to heart and in my mind this meanie hadn’t been given the swift kick in the behind I thought was deserved, so I was spilling all of this out to someone and the Holy Spirit was whispering to me the entire conversation, “Hush, now.” I didn’t sleep well at all that night, and woke up chastising myself for what I had done. I was no better than the person I had talked about, I was doing practically the same thing. I was no better than that group of Samaritan women we had just studied about. What I should have done is given this over to God. What I should have told the person I let it all out to was, “So -and- so needs a change of the heart. Please pray for that to happen. Please pray God will open their eyes and allow this person to see what they are doing.” I didn’t need to go into all the details of the wrongdoing, just a request for prayer is all that needed to be said. Yes, that’s exactly what I should have done. God will handle things in His own time and in His own way.
Because we are His disciples, God places us where He can use us. He gives us opportunities to use for His Glory and He gives us people to use for His Glory. I meet so many people in baseball. So many from different backgrounds, different histories. He uses them to teach me about myself. He uses them to improve me to become more Christ-like. He uses them to make me more forgiving and loving. You know back in the day we used to call baseball groupies, Bleacher Creatures. It was so bad that after I met and married my husband, I felt compelled to explain to others for years that I wasn’t a Bleacher Creature. We still sit in the stands and chuckle a little about the Bleacher Creatures, but once again the Holy Spirit has been talking it up in my head. Maybe I’m supposed to minister to someone like these girls if one of them lands in a seat at a ballgame that is close to mine. I don’t know, but I just feel God is working on me to do something more.
Have you ever seen the photos of the crowd at a stadium and there’s a red circle drawn around a person in the middle of it all? I always joke with Phillip the person in that circle is usually me. It seems like I’m a magnet many times for people who need some conversation, or someone who is lost in this world. I never know what is going to happen in the coming baseball season, but I always know God has something planned. I guess the baseball stadium is kind of like my own “well.” He will use the imperfect woman that I am, imperfect like that Woman at the Well, to bring others to Him. I just hope I can be as bold as that woman. She didn’t care what people thought of her any longer. She became a Believer and she just had to share about the Messiah. The story of Jesus and that woman amazes me. To her He just came out of nowhere and used her, like God drew this red circle and Jesus found her. God has His way of getting miraculous things done. We just need to listen for Him, allow Him to guide us, and believe.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”—Matthew 28:16-20