Each baseball season I have an assigned seat. Whether at home or away, I am given a ticket for each game and printed on that ticket is where I’m told I will sit for the next two to three hours, sometimes longer. In the past thirty plus years in those seats, I have made lifelong friends, had good conversation about baseball and life in general, or just sat still and observed humankind. All sorts of things can happen in those seats. God sits me where I need to sit. He picks my seat where I can learn and grow.
A couple of weeks ago God taught me a lesson about being grateful for where I am in life, even if the seat He chooses for me is covered in dust and not what I would consider the right spot for me to be in. I was sitting in my seat at the field here in Amarillo. It had been a more windy day than usual with gusts reaching 60mph. The wind had died down and it was a nice evening, but the ballpark seats were covered in dust. The ushers were doing the best they could to get the seats wiped down. As I was sitting there, a group of family and friends came to sit near me. They were all wearing T-shirts that read, “Paulie Beat Cancer” so I knew this must be a celebration. A few innings into the game I asked one of them, “Who is Paulie?” Several of the group sitting on my row leaned back a little and a small boy stood up. I wasn’t expecting that. A twelve year old Paulie had fought cancer for three years and won. I almost cried right there on the spot. Paulie was celebrated. Paulie was Fan of the Game. He was shown on the scoreboard and interviewed. The entire stadium cheered for him and the tears came to my eyes again. Paulie was happy to be alive and sitting at a baseball game with his family no matter how dusty the seat. I watched and I learned.
At the same time, I noticed a nicely dressed young woman walk down the steps of our section. She approached her seat a few rows down from me and when she looked at that seat, her face was one of disgust. She went up to the usher to request the seat be wiped down. Still, after the dust was cleared, she would not lean back in her seat. She sat rigid for the few innings she was there. She was uncomfortable in the seat God had placed her in. In another place, she had become used to only the best seats in the house and this seat covered in Amarillo dust was not where she wanted to be. I spoke to her later and introduced myself. I told her people here are nice, but it’s probably the most windy and dusty place you’ll ever be. Still, over the few days she was here, nothing was good enough. This wasn’t what she wanted. Her dusty seat was not what she deserved. She deserved a seat above the field in one of the suites, the crowd cheering for her man. There was no happiness in just being alive under a big Texas sky full of stars. I watched and I learned.
We have choices when it comes to how we behave in life, how we behave in our circumstances. Sometimes we find ourselves sitting in what we consider the perfectly neat seat right behind homeplate. Sometimes we find ourselves sitting in the cheap seat covered with bird droppings and dust. Wherever we are seated in life, God has us there for His purpose and we are to be thankful. One day we will be interviewed in front of God on His scoreboard. We will be interviewed and judged. We will be celebrated for a job well done for Him and we will be judged for what we didn’t do while sitting in the different seats He chose for us.
I’m always a work in progress. Since that one night at the ballpark, I know that I’ve failed at being a Paulie at least once. Just a couple of days ago I didn’t like my seat (not the one at the ballpark, but just the place I found myself in) and I think about opportunities missed because I was focused on that dusty seat. Yesterday I had a three hour drive from Midland to Amarillo. I drove through heavy rain and asked God to get me safely through it. When the skies cleared I could see forever above the West Texas wheat fields and it was beautiful. I thought of Paulie and asked God to forgive me and help me to get right again. Tonight I’ll be in Amarillo happily sitting in my same dusty seat underneath a Texas sky filled with stars, my eyes and heart wide open, and I’ll be thankful for it.
Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18