Catching a foul or home run ball in a professional baseball game is one of those rare gifts that is truly a special occasion for baseball fans. I had personally never done it until just this summer, and the circumstances surrounding it allowed me to reflect on an important lesson God showed me that day.
My kids, as usual, had packed their gloves for the game, ever optimistic that they would get to catch a ball at the game. I reluctantly took my glove as well at their request, knowing the odds were slim but wanting to humor the kids. (That's another lesson God teaches us with kids' attitudes - we seem to lose our hope and optimism with age and experience!)
Halfway through the game, I was standing at the top of my section taking a break from our seats down below. Wanting to catch a foul ball for my kids, I silently prayed to God for a chance at a foul ball. It seemed silly to ask God for something like that, but literally on the next pitch, the batter sliced a fly ball high into the air right towards me! Since it's rare that one even comes close, I was stunned and unprepared as I had left my glove in my seat. I hesitated to go after the ball as it drifted about ten feet past me into the hands of another fan in his seat.
I was disappointed as I wondered if that was the best chance I would ever get at catching a foul ball. Should I have been more aggressive? Should I have had my glove with me? Did I miss the chance God had given me through my prayer?
I returned to my seat and grabbed my glove, knowing there was no way another foul ball would come close but not wanting to be unprepared again. Amazingly, during the next inning a batter hit a hard ground ball right toward us. It bounced up from the wall and flew right toward me. I instinctively reached up with my glove, and in the sea of hands reaching for the ball, I felt the ball snap into my glove. As we all looked around for the ball, I was shocked to look inside my glove and find the foul ball! My kids were so excited, and I'll admit I was too. It made our night, and the kids couldn't stop taking turns holding the ball, even when we returned home.
So what's the lesson God was teaching me in that experience? Sometimes we focus too much on the missed opportunities or bad choices we may have made, and we miss the real "foul ball" God had intended for us to catch. If I hadn't optimistically gone back down to my seat and put on my glove, ready and prepared for another chance, I would have missed yet another foul ball, the ball God had originally intended for me to catch. Rather than focusing on the past and the decisions you have made, remember that God already knows the choices you intend to make, and will give you all the chances you need to make the right decisions according to His purpose. And those missed opportunities will allow you to learn and grow, so you won't miss the right decisions down the road.
Trust God for the adventure ahead, and know that God will always position you for the right "foul balls" in your life!
"Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose."
- Psalm 25:12