Bottom of the 9th, #47 – The Natural


Bottom of the 9th - The Natural

The Natural

by Austin Phippen

     It's the bottom of the 9th in the championship game, home team's down 2-0.  With two outs and runners on first and third, up to the plate steps Roy Hobbs holding the bat he calls "Wonder Boy".  In his entire life, this is the only bat Roy has ever swung, a bat he forged himself from a tree struck by lightning, for him, Wonder Boy symbolizes his talent and greatness.  Hobbs swings on and misses the first pitch.  Down 0-1 he swings and crushes a ball down the right field line and watches as it hooks in front of the foul pole and turns what would have been a game winner into nothing more than a foul ball. Hobbs turns and walks back to the plate to see his bat, his greatness, shattered to pieces.  

The Natural –

     My "bat" was baseball.  All my life I was always able to turn to baseball and knew that it wouldn't fail me.  Baseball had become my identity.  After high school I went off to chase my baseball dream in college at a school far from home where I didn't know a soul.  Strike one, I showed up at school with an injured shoulder.  I'd been told that my shoulder would heal over time with rest.  It didn't heal all fall and achy and sore, I couldn't throw very well.  It's hard to overrate throwing when you're a catcher.  I let my throwing affect every part of my game, I was so frustrated that my throwing led to struggles hitting and catching.  It was like a terrible recurrent dream that I couldn't shake.  I started to dread having to play because it was embarrassing for me.  Shouldn't baseball be a joy?  Something we love to play?   I had always been successful playing until that that fall.  Freshman year was the toughest, longest, and most frustrating season I had ever been through.  Once the dust settled at the end of the fall season, I hadn't made the team and was told that I would redshirt.  I knew that there was a good chance that I would never play baseball again.  For the first time in my life, baseball was failing me.  I can remember praying and being angry with God asking why He would bring me this far from home to fail?  Why had he taken baseball from me?  Little did I know that this failure was a blessing in disguise.  Sitting on the bench for a year, I learned more about myself and my faith and about baseball than I have learned at any other time in my life.  My time off allowed me to become more involved in a local church.  I had a chance to step back and realize that all things of this world eventually fail us, yes sadly, even baseball.  

     Before this experience and hardship I was a baseball player who was also a Christian.  Now I realize that I am a Christian blessed with the ability to play baseball.  

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the

upward call of God in Christ Jesus"     Phillipians 3:14

 "They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, escaped by death by the edge of the sword, their weakness was turned to strength,they became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight."      Hebrews 11:34

     With a new bat in hand, Hobbs steps back up to the plate realizing that his talent and greatness lies within something greater than his bat.  Hobbs crushes the next pitch, a walk off homer over the right field fence.

What is your bat and what will you do when it's shattered?

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