Thursday, April 07, 2005


Have your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ephesians 6:15

When I used to play baseball, I always got nervous before the first pitch. During those few tense pre-game moments in the locker room, I wondered if I had what it takes. Was my training rigorous enough, or was I ill-prepared to accomplish the task at hand?

Soon, all the preliminary activities were over and these thoughts dissipated. After the triumphant finale of the national anthem, the home team hit the field and the umpire gave the "ready" signal to the starting pitcher. It was gametime.

My coach used to say there are two responses to pressure: performance and failure. You can either let the pressure get to your head, extinguishing any chance you had at success, or you can relax, relying on your physical and mental preparation to execute the gameplan.

In life, I've found that anxiety is inevitable. Anyone who claims never to have experienced it is an emotionless robot who will later face problems when faced with situations in which a healthy fear is necessary for survival. Fear is healthy when it influences us to complete an action that benefits us. But unhealthy fear is a poisonous compound formed by the fusion of our excessive desire to please others and our tendency to dwell on the uncertainty of the outcome of a situation rather than our preparation for it.

Most of the time on the baseball diamond, when my steel cleat scraped the red clay within the chalk rectangle of the batter's box, unhealthy fear was left on the outside. Why? Because I was a macho guy who didn't worry about failure? No, but after hours of batting practice, tee drills, soft toss, and swing analysis, I was literally prepared for anything the pitcher could throw at me.

In the heat of the battle, there is no time for preparation or rehearsal, only reaction. A warrior trying to learn how to use his sword in the midst of the fight is sure to get struck down. If he is prepared, however, the burden of performance is lightened. Failure then is not a result of his irresponsibility. He can rest because he's given it his best shot.

We as the "Roadmakers" experienced a similar situation spiritually on our journey. Our mission, with all its intricacies, required intense physical and spiritual preparation. To us, the journey began not when our plane touched down on the tarmac in our destination country, but when we first received the call to leave our homes and head to a faraway land to proclaim the mystery of Christ.

Until our trip to the airport, the team had been spread all across Georgia, or as Bill put it, "scattered to the four corners of the earth." But individually and corporately, we began to pray for the trip, later finding out that the overarching themes of all our prayers were unity and dependence on God.

When we touched down in our first country, we participated in three solid days of training and planning. The routes had to be mapped out in detail. Every foreseeable situation was accounted for. Thanks to our army guys, we had "briefbacks," a session in which each team explained its itinerary in detail to the rest of the team. Although we would be separated for two days, the mission required that each team be familiar with the schedule of the others.

Our prayers and our "Riegerous" (those who went on the trip will understand) physical, spiritual, and logistical preparation were our extra cuts in the batting cage. Once our beautiful feet hit the ground in our destination country, we were ready for the enemy's curveballs. Believe me, there were some nasty ones to come...

1 comment:

ledgesinme said...

Great blog. You got game!