Bottom of the 9th, #50 – Runners in Scoring Position

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Bottom of the 9th - Runners in Scoring Position

Runners in Scoring Position

     One of the baseball phrases that young players have to grow into is the concept of runners in scoring position. We had a third base coach in little leagues who used to tell the players, “You get to first, I’ll get you home.†In those days, anyone on base was in scoring position, but as pitchers and players added to their abilities, it became harder and harder to keep that third base coach’s promise.

     The unofficial major league dictionary considers a runner in scoring position to be on either second or third base, because from there, they can usually score on any base hit. So players and managers do all in their power to get runners to those positions – steal, sacrifice, bunt, hit and run, ... as long as they have unused outs with which to tinker. It’s a thinking man’s use of the offensive arsenal. It also occurs to me that it puts much of the runner’s fate in the hands of those who follow. If the next batter follows the sign and executes accordingly, the runner either succeeds at getting to scoring position, or does, in fact, score. 

     So much of life depends on those who follow, and by follow, I don’t mean just to “come afterâ€, but also, to “act according to a planâ€. Many times we are thrust into the role of fostering those who come after us. It’s obvious in a parent, teacher, coach, pastor relationship. It’s important in an aunt, uncle, sibling, neighbor, friend relationship. It’s intricate in a classmate, teammate, friend relationship. It’s epic in a savior, disciple, believer relationship. We all fall into multiple categories throughout our “playing timeâ€. Sometimes we are the runner and sometimes we are the batter. 

     All this shines a bright light on the importance of fostering those who come behind us. If my success as a runner depends on the person who follows me at the plate, what am I doing to make them successful? Have I embraced that person so they know we are working toward a common goal? Does that person trust me and know that I will follow the sign and believe in them to execute what is asked? Does the batter feel confident that I will not judge them or lose faith in them if they are unable to come through in this situation? Whatever role you find yourself in right now, consider how you are running or batting.

     Now consider the batter. When you are in the position to move the runners to scoring position, you may be asked to give up glory in favor of moving him or her further toward home. “One sows and another reaps†(John 4:37) comes to mind. What we do in the Kingdom of God is very much the same. Following the call does not always put us in front of a congregation, an audience, an organizational chart. Sometimes we are in the batter’s box being expected to lay down a bunt with the intent of being the only out at first, sending the beloved runner on base to the next level – not very glamorous. This is playing humbly. This is living humbly. This is grace! Furthering the Kingdom of God is not always heralded by trumpet fanfare.

     All these best laid plans of an attentive runner and an obedient batter do not guarantee success. In a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality, we want to see success when we do the right thing. How interesting would a baseball game be if that were the case? It reminds me of our “get to first I’ll get you home†game plan. In those cases you end up with a score of 35-32. Not the beautiful game that we love. Not the life-like circumstances that keep the game plan constantly fluid. When it comes to runners in scoring position, embrace being the runner and the batter when it is appropriate and we will all further the kingdom. Ultimately, Christ is our follow-up batter. If we get on base, He will get us home. Heed the signs!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

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