Stories of Faith

Bill and Little League Baseball

by Sarah Martin

Now that summer time is here, I thought it would be nice to put in a story about the American national pastime, Little League Baseball.   

We have some friends who have 5 children.   When their two boys were younger, they both wanted to play on the little league ball teams.  Their father, Bill, wanted to teach them to put God first and so he wouldn’t allow them to participate.  He knew that they often had practices on prayer meeting night and sometimes even games on Sundays.  Still the boys pressed for permission.  All of their friends were on teams and there was considerable peer pressure for them to join.  “What is wrong with baseball?” they asked.   

Finally, Bill sat down to have a talk with the boys.  “Sons,” he said, “I know that you really want to play baseball.  I enjoy baseball myself and there is nothing wrong with playing the game.  The reason I haven’t allowed you to join is because of the pressure of that commitment.  I know that you will be pressed to miss prayer meetings and even church services in order to be faithful to the ball team.  I want you to understand that God is first in our lives and He will never take a second seat to anything of this world.  If you will make an agreement with me, then I have decided that you may join a team.  You must promise that you will never let it interfere with your commitment to God.”  They were excited and promised to inform the coach at the very first practice that they would not practice or play in a game if it interfered with any event at their church.  They joined a team on which were several of their church friends. 

It wasn’t long before a practice was called on Prayer Meeting night.  The boys told the coach they wouldn’t be able to attend.  As usual, the family went to prayer meeting together.  The next day, the coach came to see Bill at his place of employment.  The coach called him out in front of all of his co-workers and gave him a rather loud and angry dressing down. His commitment to Little League and his parental abilities were called into question.  Certain remarks were also directed toward his personal integrity.  Finally, the coach closed with the words, “If you are going to do Little League, then Little League has got to be FIRST in your life!”    

During this barrage, the godly father simply stood quietly.  When the coach finished his harangue, Bill simply pulled himself up, looked Coach straight in the eye and said quietly, “Little League will never be first in my life.  God is first in my life and will always be.”  At that, the coach stormed out. 

Throughout the summer, the boys played only on days when there were no church activities.  Their team did very well and the older son became the star pitcher and the home run slugger.  He led the team to the championship.  There was some concern that the game would be on Thursday, the day of the Sunday School program.   When the game was announced for Friday, the boys sighed with relief, “Oh, good, we will be able to play!”   

As the big day drew near, there was much excitement.  The oldest son was to be the starting pitcher and he was spending every possible moment practicing his fast ball.  Then, unexpectedly, on Sunday morning, the Sunday School Superintendent announced that due to a conflict, the program would be changed to Friday evening instead of Thursday.  After the service, the team members gathered in the hallway.  “Your Dad won’t make you miss the championship!” they encouraged.  “No one could be that mean!”   

On the way home, the boys broached the subject of the game.  “Dad, you know the championship is on Friday!  We can’t miss that game!”   

Dad calmly replied, “Do you remember our agreement when I let you join the team?”   

“Yes,” the older son confessed, “we are not to play if it interferes with church.  But, Dad, the Sunday School program is not church and besides, it was supposed to be on Thursday!   It’s not fair that they changed it at the last minute!   I am the starting pitcher, I have to be there!”    

Bill looked at his son’s eager face, “Son, our agreement was that ball would not interfere with anything that was happening at the church.  Also, I believe that you have a part in the program and you must be there.”   Further discussion did not move Bill, he stood fast on his commitment to the Lord and he required that his son should also.  He told his sons that they must stay to the end of the program, but the second it was over, they would hurry to the ball field and perhaps they could get in on the last part of the game.  

During the next few days, Bill received visits from the coach as well as other fathers of the team members.  Even some of the church fathers encouraged him to let the boys go the game.  Quite a few people were very upset with him, but he stood firm.  On Friday night, his boys were there doing their part in the program.  As soon as the last Amen was said, they ran to the truck and Bill drove them straight to the ball field.  There they discovered an amazing thing.  A variety of strange events had caused the game to be delayed!   It hadn’t even started yet! Bill’s son walked to the mound and threw the first pitch of the championship game! Because of a godly father who refused to compromise, the entire community had a wonderful opportunity to see how God helps those who put Him first!

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