In 2011 I stood in the front of a church surrounded by family and friends and a group of men and women standing up front that represented our community, our support system that has walked through life with us and supported us in our next stage of life in marriage. One of those men standing with me was Luke Trout. Luke Trout was my best friend through high school. We played baseball together all four years and enjoyed some amazing times together. Luke has taught me more about perseverance, humility, support, and friendship than anyone else in my life. I met Luke during freshman-year baseball tryouts and four the next four years we were the two catchers on each team we played on together.
Luke was my backup for four years. Each year and each team he would sit behind me, catch bullpens, get a sporadic at-bat in a lopsided game, and watch a lot of baseball. When he played he played well, however it never turned into him starting and it stayed that way all four years. Despite our roles on the team, we spent countless hours together at his house, my house, hitting in the cage, watching baseball, or generally hanging out. It always surprised me that no matter our standing on the team Luke was never bitter, discouraged, or frustrated. He was always the first guy out of the dugout to give me a high-five, the first guy to see something in my swing and help me correct it, or help me become the best player I could be.
Throughout our four years we saw many players come and go, some quit because of playing time, others because of issues with the coach, however, Luke remained steadfast, hardworking, and always encouraging without a hint of frustration. Luke’s hard work paid off and after high school Luke got the opportunity to go on to play collegiate baseball, start, and play well. I still look at Luke’s approach to the game, his perseverance, and his love of the game as an example for players that I coach and minister too.
The Bible says a lot about perseverance as well. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” It is interesting the way James says this, because he doesn’t say “try to push through the trials and endure them”, he calls us to consider those trials joy, to think and act joyfully in the face of things that are hard, because in the end that perseverance produces the crop of steadfastness, thus strengthening our faith. Imagine Luke’s outlook on a bad at-bat as a starter in college? Do you think his approach was different than people who had never experienced failure or disappointment? Imagine his joy as a starting catcher in college, after spending his four high schools years without that opportunity. Hard things in our life teach us to approach things very differently as we move forward in life.
What if we approach strikeouts, errors, and losses joyfully in anticipation of the fruit that those trials will produce in our lives? I think this would produce a different kind of player, one that takes extreme joy in the little things, plays with a different vision, keeps their eyes on the prize in a deeper way, and leads a team and a community in a different type of success. What if we were those players and coaches? How our teams and our communities could be changed and what a demonstration of the Gospel! We have the opportunity to put Christ on display by how we deal with failure, because He has called us to something better and these small failures lead us to know Jesus in a deeper way!