Almost every day at work I see men throwing away their relationships with their sons over a little white ball and an aluminum bat. The world of high-level competitive 12-14 year old baseball must grieve the heart of God. It certainly saddens mine. It comes in all shapes and sizes: There’s the demand for absolute perfection. Or the deathly silence and a turned shoulder. Some pierce with a cold, chilling stare. Still others issue forth loud explosions of profanity. One father/coach threw a bucket of baseballs across the dugout when his son struck out looking. His son wilted. How ironic it is that the biggest youth baseball tournament in America falls the weekend of Father’s Day.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Children don’t listen to words, they watch actions and then determine if the words are worth listening to. A father who does not walk in the way he is training to cannot “train up a child in the way he should go.” A son will be as his father is. If children are a window into the heart of their parents, a son is certainly the mirror of his father’s mind. “Have some fun up there” is a common third-base coach encouragement for the batter. The kid knows that his dad really means “Get a hit or I’ll yell at you.” Nobody is interested in fun. Winning is all that matters—first for the face, and then for the mirror.
I don’t have any U14 baseball championship trophies. But I have something better: A father who has raised his children in the way of the Lord.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” I’ve loved with him.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” I’ve rejoiced with him.
“Pray for your enemies and bless those who curse you.” I’ve prayed with him.
“Confess your sins to one another.” I’ve seen him confess.
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her.” I’ve watched him love and give.
“The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, and good conscience, and a sincere faith.” I’ve learned from him.
“Preach the Word in season and out of season.” I’ve seen him preach—in season and out.
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” I’ve seen him suffer.
“Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I’ve seen him delight and receive.
“Shepherd the flock of God well.” I’ve seen him shepherd well.
“Be as innocent as doves and as wise as serpents.” I’ve heard him be innocent and wise. “Bear one another’s burdens.” I’ve seen him bear others’ burdens.
“Reprove…rebuke.” I’ve been reproved and rebuked by him.
“Exhort.” I’ve been exhorted by him.
“Guard my sheep.” I’ve been guarded by him.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.” I have been trained up by him in the way I should go, and by the grace of God I will never depart.
Countless prayers, countless tears. Countless smiles, countless conversations. Maybe someday God will give me a family of my own. If so, I pray that I will guide and train as my father has guided and trained me. Thank you, Dad, for your faithfulness. I love Christ more purely and more truly because of you.
One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
Those prints are large and round and neat,
“But Lord they are too big for feet.”
“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.”
“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
and there I dropped you on your butt.”
“Because in life, there comes a time,
when one must fight, and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand,
or leave their butt prints in the sand.”
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will take it to heart.