When I woke up Wednesday morning, something was wrong. As I turned off the alarm a sudden pain shot down my right arm. As I slowly shook off the fog of morning, I took a quick self-assessment. I had a pain in my neck and right shoulder. I’ve felt it before, but I couldn’t remember when. There was a tightness when I turned my neck (what little bit of neck I have), and when I tried to stand up, everything hurt. Then it hit me. I knew what was wrong. I wasn’t dying, I had just pitched batting practice the night before!
Let’s rewind a little. A few months ago Critter called me and said, “Hey, Dad, Nic and I want to coach a baseball team. Want to manage the team?” It sounded goofy enough to be fun, so I said yes. Understand, I last coached Little League when Critter was 12 years old. In July he turned 28! That is a long time between baseball practices!
That is what led to me being on the field and pitching batting practice to the Minor A Dodgers. As I walked on the field the first night I realized how much I had missed coaching. We’re only practicing right now, but the games are coming. It is going to be a lot of fun.
It is also going to be interesting since I am in a much different place in my life than when I last coached. I know a little more about what is really important in life. You might say I have a totally different perspective on life. I used to be hyper-competitive, but now I am a little more mellow. I still want to win, I’m just not willing to tear someone’s liver out to do it. I don’t think I will yell at the umpires as much as I used to. I don’t think so, but we’ll find out when the games start.
I know an awful lot of people who went to church as kids or teens, and then for one reason or another left the church. Some of them just cooled on the idea of church, some of them just quit going and never went back.
Here’s a crazy idea: give church another try. There is a huge movement of young people returning to their church roots. Some of them are looking for the whole stained glass, high church experience. Some of the returnees are looking for something completely different, trying to fill holes they felt in the churches of their youth. One thing is for sure, however you return to church, God has been waiting for you.
I love the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke chapter 15. The son wastes all of his inheritance on riotous living, then decides to return home with his tail between his legs. Something amazing happens in verse 20, ““So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him…”
Did you catch that? While the kid was still far off, his dad saw him. The dad was watching, waiting for his son to come home. No recriminations, no stern talking-to, just love and compassion. God has been waiting ever since you left the church for the day you would come home. He won’t judge you, he won’t turn you away or make you jump through a bunch of hoops. He will just embrace you and welcome you home.
Verse 24 says, “…this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. ’ So the party began.” All heaven will break out the Doritos and Diet Coke when you come home. So what are you waiting for?
Looking for some Tylenol… Jerry