There’s a story that takes place during the time of the Judges and that story is captured in the Book of Ruth. On the surface, Ruth presents one of the most difficult challenges for this project of connecting the Word to the baseball field. How could a story of an unmarried, foreign widow be connected with a game? As we dig into the story, we zoom out to find the connections and those connections are profound. As you prepare to read about some of the big ideas from Ruth, take some time to read Ruth and watch the Bible Project’s video outlining the framework of Ruth (https://thebibleproject.com/explore/ruth/) as we dive into this week’s “Baseball Guy’s Bible Guide.”
Due up in the Bottom of the Ninth:
- God Weaves a Story
- God is Involved
- Following God
God Weaves a Story
The Book of Ruth is a beautiful work of art. Sometimes that makes the ideas and connections of such a story less accessible. For whatever reason, we tend to want our faith stories delivered in a more straightforward, non-fiction method whereas God often wants to embed His truths in stories, poetry, and art. It’s just better that way.
Popular culture experienced a novel and film recently called Life of Pi. The main character tells the story of his time in a lifeboat on the ocean in two different forms. At the end of the book and movie, Pi simply asks the journalist interviewing him, “Which story do you prefer?” His question is driving at whether the narrative laced with creativity or the direct account was preferable. It was clear that the first story was superior and filled with more intrigue. We should use part of our life to connect with God through stories, poetry, and art so we can tap into the essence of God through the creative.
An author has two options to bring the character to light - direct and indirect characterization. Direct Characterization tells the audience exactly what the personality of the character is (i.e. - “God is love.”). Indirect Characterization provides events and things that reveal the personality of a character. The Book of Ruth is an entire book of the Bible where God indirectly shows Himself as being deeply woven into the story. His purposes are embedded in the human decisions that are made throughout the story.
So much of our baseball life is based on the narrative we are telling ourselves in a given moment. May we continue to seek the art of the game through the positive, indirect narrative where God is working out a wonderful, artful story in each of our lives.
God is Involved
One of the great questions people ask of a God who created the world is did He create the world and pass it off to us to run as we see fit, or is God intimately involved in every decision and every detail of our lives? Because of how often God reaches down to man throughout the Old Testament and then ultimately arrives on earth as Jesus, it seems to me that God is very obviously and intimately involved in all of our lives.
Far too often we ask questions that are too simplistic. Does God care if one team wins and another team loses? Does God care if you went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4 today? The answer, in short, is “yes.” But the better question is whether or not these are the right questions.
If we believe God is intimately involved in every component of our lives, what is He hoping to do? A win or a loss, a successful day or one that requires us to deal with adversity, are far to binary. They are either/or propositions. God’s seeking to weave Himself into our hearts and be at the core of our existence. If God is involved in our day-to-day like He is in the book of Ruth, we should lean into Him. He desires to bring about the redemptive purposes of the world through us on the baseball field. When we seek God on that level, winning or losing, succeeding or failing become secondary and the whole experience of life on the field becomes far more impactful on us and everyone around us.
Early in the book, Ruth says something very important to Ruth as she states her devotion to Naomi. She says in Ruth 1:16, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Every time I read this verse, the Chris Tomlin song and lyrics queue up in my head…”Where you go I’ll go…”
I’m sure there are more examples in the baseball world, but Tim Tebow’s recent journey into baseball seems to tap into this idea. He’s established a platform of faith wherever he’s been led. He goes where God is leading. He lives where God is living. When he was bounced from the NFL and doubted as a quarterback, he moved with God into baseball. Whether you believe he’s a ploy by ownership to sell tickets or that he has potential to be an impact player on the field doesn’t really matter. He’s following God the way Ruth followed Naomi.
I had a chance to meet Tebow briefly last winter as he was preparing for a private hitting session. In those moments, I recognized him as a person, a fellow human being in this walk of faith. Far too often we elevate people in the spotlight as something different or something more. The fact of the matter is that he’s just like us in every way. He’s living out his faith and going where God leads him. He’s trying to point people towards his God. In this way, I hope we would seek opportunities to share our walk with our God with more people in our sphere. Break the chains of keeping our experiences private for some reason and share your experiences with God daily. You can have just as much impact on people as Tebow does. It’s time to follow God and believe it.