Starting 9 - The Mental and Spiritual Game

Bottom of the 9th - Starting 9 Introduction
by Keith Wahl

Human beings are an interesting creation, aren’t we? We have a deep-seeded tendency to trust what we can see, feel, and touch more than the work that happens internally through the spirit. Baseball players are no different. We’ll take 1,000 swings or throw 100 pitches before we would ever seek something that might affect our internal motor or spiritual well-being. Even when we do choose to address the game mentally, we feel like we need to seek humanistic psychological techniques to achieve a new level of performance. We trust what we can see, feel, and touch because, on the inside, our emotions are constantly changing.

The beauty of baseball is that the game doesn't change. Juxtapose that fact with the spread offense in football and the passing records across all levels being obliterated. Football looks more like 7-on-7 or video game now than it did 50 years ago. Basketball is in a state of metamorphosis currently as teams attempt more and more three pointers. Baseball doesn't change. It is as steady as God's Word. Sometimes pitchers are a little better, sometimes hitters gain a slight edge. The game itself is stable. Because of this, we have an opportunity to approach an unchanging game differently. Since the game doesn’t change, we have the opportunity to change how we look at it. Our internal worldview of how we can apply the Word to the game is both critical and transformational.

Our transformation on the field begins with moving from self-sufficiency to God-sufficiency. That doesn’t mean that Jesus is going to throw a pitch or take an at bat for us. However, it does mean that we stop relying solely on what is happening on the outside, and begin to move our focus on things that will change us from the inside out.

Anxiety rises when we lean on our own flesh. When we seek and rely upon self sufficiency, our spirit somehow knows that there's not enough in the tank. It causes shortness of breath, a racing heart, sweating while resting. In those moments when we realize we can't rely on ourselves, we have the opportunity to tap into our spiritual selves. We have the opportunity to lean into He who created the universe. We can seek the same power that rose Jesus from the grave, the resurrection power that brought Christ from death to life. Why is there a tendency within society and the game of baseball to view following Jesus as a sign of weakness? Nothing could be further from the truth. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to everyone on the field. It’s time for us to tap into our spiritual strength. 

Our next series will begin a journey into the “Starting 9” - a vision for a mental and spiritual approach rooted in scripture. After all, any psychological truth is an observation of our creation and our Creator, and any great mental game lesson will illustrate Biblical truth. We hope the series is a blessing to all readers, especially as we begin to work through the “dog days” of summer.