Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go to Bat, Swinging

Mike Hareholser. That name struck fear in the hearts of every 7 year-old at the Little Lake Little League. My friends who were on his baseball team were so glad they didn't have to face him. He was taller than the rest of us. He had matured faster. His arm was like a sling shot. His body fell towards the plate. He had a rising fastball. He threw harder than any person on the planet - or so it seemed.

And so, I admit it. I was afraid of him. The first time we faced the Cubs that year and Hareholser pitched, I struck out looking every time except once - when I drew a walk. But the bat never left my shoulder. I was going up there ready to bail. It was the classic - watch the kid step out of the batter's box as the ball approaches. This was not what my parents had come to see.

My father, my biggest supporter and fan, tried to help me not be afraid of the ball. He played catch with me, pitched to me, and encouraged me in the correct ways. He was not the overbearing type. He was not the crazy parent who made everybody else roll their eyes. He was not the guy who argued with the umpires from the stands. Dad, if you are reading this, let me say, "Thanks."

But the second time we were to play the Cubs, my father simply said, "Jeremy, if you don't go to bat swinging, I will not stay to watch you play. You have to try. You don't have to hit the ball. But you cannot hit it unless you try." Perhaps the greatest disappointment of my early life was that game. I came up to the plate. Three pitches, straight down the middle. Three called strikes, and my bat never moved.

As I walked back to the dugout, I looked toward the stands. Then I looked toward our house, that was located directly behind the ball field. All I could see was my father's back, as he slowly but decidedly walked home. It was not his fault. He was a man of his word. He had never missed any of my games or at-bats that I could remember. I knew I had blown it because I simply didn't have the courage to try.

We may not be great public speakers. We may not have great talents. We may not be the best at personal evangelism. We may be afraid of failure when it comes to spiritual opportunities and growth. But ever since that day, I decided within myself that even if I struck out miserably, I would go to bat, swinging. I have applied this to preaching and soul-winning, and I believe it has made all of the difference.

If you are my friend, please listen to me. You have a heavenly Father who loves you and who will accept strike outs. But He will not accept you when you refuse to try.

The last time I ever faced Mike Hareholser, I hit the hardest line drive I have ever hit in my life.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." ~ 2 Timothy 1:7


  1. Jeremiah, Great lesson in that story! When one learns this lesson while young, it sets the stage to live a life time fuller and more complete in every phase of life. My lesson came in the form of track & field competition as a young man. Perhaps I will share that story with you one day. Reed Wilson

  2. That has always been my motto....you don't know unless you try no matter what any body says to you......you have to try and give it your best....and that is all that God expects from us is our best......

  3. Thankfully, you didn't lose a tooth in one of those games like one of your brothers-in-law did!!

  4. You told that memory so well I felt as if it were my own. Thank you for sharing! I love the life lesson you have drawn from that day.