Amy and I don’t pray about baseball.

We have consistently taught our children two key elements about prayer: Prayer is not magic. God is not Santa Claus.

God doesn’t score winning touchdowns at the Super Bowl, no matter what the quarterback who threw the pass says. With starving children and natural disasters and the again-increasing threat of global nuclear war in the wind, we believe God has much more important things to do than worry about whether Jackson gets a “W” in the stats book today when he steps onto the mound to pitch for Presbyterian College.

But we’re his parents. And we happen to pray.

One of the last times he stepped onto the mound, Bennett was sitting with his mother who said a little more loudly than under her breath, “Lord, help him to do well.” B quickly jabbed his preacher-mother, “I thought you didn’t pray about baseball!?”

So, what to do…?

He has worked so hard. I mean so hard. Hours and hours and hours on the field, in the weight room, running, throwing, listening to coaches. Hours and hours and hours riding a bus – and then studying organic chemistry through coffee-drenched wee-hours of the morning.

He spent his first year as a very-disappointed “red shirt.” He doesn’t want to spend a fifth year in college, so that was a season of wasted eligibility. He didn’t play that year, but it didn’t decrease the time on the field, in the weight room, running, throwing…

Then he worked last year, all season, working, hoping, waiting for a chance to show himself. And it finally showed up.

There are about 18 pitchers on most college baseball teams. And there’s only one mound. So, you do the math, and figure in a bit of the maddeningly-frustrating coaching Zen, and you realize how hard it is to claw your way up to a starting spot. But that happens. Today.

So, his father, the Baptist minister is typing these words on a Sunday morning from a Starbucks in Asheville, NC. Since Amy was scheduled to preach, I’m playing hooky, but will slip in to the back of the sanctuary at First Baptist, just down the street. I’ll be one of those guests that the ministers, sitting on the podium see and ask, “I wonder who that guy was, and why he came late and left early?” And while I’m there, maybe I’ll pray.

Which is a tricky thing for a Baptist minister, a father of a pitcher, who honestly doesn’t pray for baseball. But maybe my prayer will sound something like this…

God of all good things
from saving grace to a well-timed curve ball
Be with Jackson today
as he climbs onto that mound –
not unlike others
who have gone up the mountain in hopes of seeing glory
You know that I know that you don’t care who wins baseball games
But you know that I’m a father of a son
and you know that he does care
You know that I know that you have more important things to do today than worry
whether one player, throwing a round, white ball 60-feet, 6-inches at a time
can throw it straight and fast or twisted and off-speed
all in the right combinations
all for the meaningless glory of
"strike three and you’re out!"
but I believe you grace this world with beauty –
beauty that shows itself in many different ways
and I believe you intend good health for the people of this world
and that healthy bodies and some drive down in the core of our souls
calls us to compete
so this day, I hope you can hear a father’s prayer
not for a win
but for a son
If you can strip away the selfishness of such a silly prayer
(Which you’ll have to do, because I can’t)
Hear my prayer.


ps God… Go Blue Hose!


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