Bottom of the 9th, #32 – Encourage Meant


Bottom of the 9th - Encourage Meant

Encourage Meant

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

     Peace that greets us in this passage is a quiet goodness. It is less about the absence of war or turmoil, and more about calm in all circumstances, joy in the midst of trials, rejoicing in the throws of pain. What encouragement Jesus gives us when he wishes us peace!

     If you are a baseball player or fan, these phrases will sound particularly familiar to you: “Give it a ride,†“Good eye,†“Nice swing,†“Wait for your pitch,†“Protect the plate,†“Just make contact,†“A walk’s as good as a hit,†“Good cut.†Translated, all these clichés mean pretty much the same thing, “Calm down, and do your best.†This chorus of words from an attentive crowd are the acceptable chatter in the midst of competition. When a father says, “Protect the plate,†he is actually saying, “We’ve done this in the back yard since you were little. I want to see you succeed.†When a mother says, “Nice swing,†she is truthfully communicating, “That was a good try, and I love you even though you missed the ball.†You see how the words have to be tempered in baseball tradition to meet the socially acceptable criteria? Our public and private selves are not so different, but they do have to conform. 

   Sometimes I wonder if my prayers are comparable to this kind of chatter. Do I say what I mean, or do I conform to an acceptable outline of how to communicate with my heavenly Father? It occurs to me that my prayer language often includes, “Lord, bless ..., protect ..., wrap your loving arms around ..., thank you for ...†I am asking God to do things He would do whether or not I ask (or plead). Translated, my go-to phrases all mean relatively the same thing, “Father, I am yours and I love you and I trust you.†

     Listening to players, I am told they generally do not hear what the crowd says. However, something may feel lacking if there is no background noise to accompany their at bat. So, do we as parents and fans say these things for our own comfort? When we pray, do we say the words to encourage ourselves? Look at the essence of the word en-courage. It is quite literally, to give courage, or even further, to give hope. Now that is what we should be communicating to batters! I think that is what I am trying to communicate when I pray. My prayers are a declaration that I have hope, and I look to Jesus when I call upon hopefulness. 

Lord, I come to you in prayer, seeking your encouragement and feeling the connection it gives me to you. Like my heart beat, I am not always aware of the presence, but I understand the value, and when I stop to listen, it is marvelous.

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