“Compassion In Competition”

Mollie and I had not been to a little league baseball game in years and were therefore unfamiliar with the updated rules–such as the coach being the pitcher and the players throwing the ball to the pitcher to stop any player from running to the next base. 

Nonetheless, there were still the age-old standards that popped up at our Grandson’s game. Like one young man sitting in our stands that had the delusion that he was the coach for both teams and was yelling out orders to every kid. It didn’t matter what the base coaches said, this man in the stands thought he was in charge. Never mind what they decided on a close call, he verbalized his own opinion and did it loudly. It was disgusting. I wondered what his son must have thought about him. I thought to myself, things haven’t changed that much since I played!

The pitcher for our six-year-old Grandson’s team was a young man, but the pitcher for the opposing team was a lady name Michelle that worked at a local convenience store and gas-mart in our town. She was always cheerful and had a great personality, but I learned something deeper and richer about her that day at the ballpark. Her team was at bat and as the next batter stepped to the plate someone behind me whispered, This is the first time he’s ever played in a real baseball game and I think it’s the first time he’s ever been at bat–let’s see how he does. He was a little chubby and as awkward goes, that too, but he positioned himself in the batter’s box and waited. First throw, a swing and a miss–the second throw didn’t quite make it there, she was being fair but gentle. Third pitch and bang off the bat and straight to the shortstop. The chubby kid ran as best he could but he was thrown out at first, but remember; he had never played in a real game before so all he heard was Jenny yelling “Run Forrest Run,” so he kept running for first base. He made it to first base and just stood there with a big smile of achievement on his face. The make-believe coach in our stands was mouthing off and saying, “Is that kid stupid, he was out–he needs to get off the base so we can get on with the game.” His wife told him to shut-up and for his sake, I’m glad he did!

What was Michelle going to do? This was a real competition. This was a real catch-22. However, that day it was competition with compassion, as Michelle walked slowly over to him and put her arm around his shoulder, I overheard her say something like, “Wow, you got a hit your very first time at bat–that’s great, not many players can do that. Now we’ll need to go to the dugout and get some water and wait for your next time at bat. Man that was awesome, you really smacked that ball.” The kids in the dugout clapped for him. He was a happy camper and never knew anything was wrong. 

Had it not been for that simple act of compassion, that boy could have been humiliated, shamed and ended up a wounded, brokenhearted outsider. He could have been condemned or mentally scarred for life during a little league baseball game because he didn’t know the rules. Thank God for compassionate people like Michelle.

Then she modestly walked back to the pitcher’s mound and everyone was happy in Little League Heaven. She probably didn’t even realize that she had just saved that chubby little boy’s hopes and dreams. It may be, as a result of her compassion, he will probably grow up to be a godly father or maybe a guidance counselor helping chubby little kids change their Lives. Who knows, he may be a little league coach that puts his arm around your Grandchild and says, “Wow, did you see what you just did? That was great!”

I Peter 3: 8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

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“Go See What Is Available”

Mark 6: 34-38 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

Jesus already knew what He had to work with—five little barley loaves and two small fish. However, what he was verifying was the “Who” He had to work with. His disciples were concerned about the people and their hunger, while Jesus was more interested in proving the disciples’ willingness to present what was available to their Lord. It turned out that Phillip did not even consider the little lunch they found available to be worthwhile, but Andrew anticipated the thought of Jesus doing a lot with just a little.

The boy was from a poor family because the loaves were made of paltry barley and the fish were probably the size and variety of smoked sardines. Nonetheless, Andrew approached him about his meager lunch, the small amount that would feed over five thousand people. Andrew didn’t search through the multitude to find the biggest bounty; Jesus had said, “Go see what is Available,” and what he found was that scanty amount.

The Scripture is silent on how Andrew may have asked for the meal, but I do not believe the boy hesitated when he was approached. I believe he was overjoyed with the prospect of Jesus needing his food. I believe that not only did the child make his lunch available; he also made his life available. He may have said, “Yes sir, the Master may have my food, in fact, the Master may have all of me to use any way He desires.” Jesus saw fit to take, pray and break that humble offering and feed the entire mass of men, women and children.

Wouldn’t it be great to think that the twelve baskets of leftovers gathered by the disciples actually became a processional that followed the child though the streets of his village? What if they stopped in front of his house with the baskets filled with fish and bread and watched him as he invited everyone in his neighborhood to come and dine on the “All you can eat Free Buffet,” compliments of Jesus.

Jesus is still telling His disciples to “Go and see what is Available.” So, if you’re approached and asked to give what you have for the cause of Christ, you may just be the next little child of God that witnesses yet another miracle for the multitudes because you made what you had available.

  Pastor Hal Steenson