All over the country right now, college baseball programs are wrapping up the worst time of the year: team conditioning. In between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break, there’s no baseball being played, just daily team conditioning. Unless you’re sick in the head or a pitcher (a synonym for “sick in the head”), no one really enjoys team conditioning or they’d be doing it all year long. It’s cold and often still dark outside when you embark on something that you didn’t sign up for, so unless there’s the motivation of the hope that you focus on, then you have nothing to focus on except the pain that you’re feeling. It’s the hope that gets you through.
This is going to sound superficial (because it is), but my hope was knowing that when we returned from Christmas break, we had gear galore waiting for us. Forget our cotton practice t-shirts and our adjustable practice hats. Our game gear was shiny and new. We get team cleats and turfs. Our BP tops have our numbers on them. I would literally picture how cool our four game hats were going to be as I ran timed sprints on the soccer field. For me, knowing what was waiting on the other side was enough to get me through anything.
In Luke 23, as Jesus and the two criminals are being crucified, in the midst of the most brutal death known to man, one of the criminals says in verse 41, “We indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus remember me when you come in your kingdom!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in paradise.”
To hear Jesus Christ the Messiah and Savior of the world say to you, “Today you shall be with Me in paradise” would be hope to override all hopes. To know that waiting for you on the other side of pain was paradise, there would be nothing that was too much to endure to get there.
The gear got me through team conditioning but they didn’t get me through the real trials in life. Christ came as the hope of the world. Hold fast to the truth that through Him and because of Him, you shall be with Him one day in paradise. With your eyes on Him, there’s no pain this world has for you that you can’t endure.
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:13-14