Catch the vision

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 
Psalm 119:11

Hunkered down in the outfield on a sticky, buggy summer night waiting to chase fly balls is probably not on many a young woman’s to-do list. Given the choice, I bet most would prefer to spend time with friends enjoying music and a tasty meal, or a movie and popcorn in an air-conditioned theater. I can appreciate that now, but in my youth I craved the smell of fresh-cut grass, the soft leather of my mitt, and all of the other sights and sounds of a softball game.

Those who know me now would probably raise their eyebrows and chuckle at the thought of my fifty-something self swinging a bat, charging toward first base, or arguing with an umpire. When I was in my twenties, though, the softball field was my favorite place to be. From a young age, athletics came naturally to me and I enjoyed team play. After graduating from high school, I missed organized sports. When an invitation to join a women’s softball team came, my answer was a resounding yes! After a few practices, the coach assigned me to left-center field, and life was good.

Until one practice when things began to look different.

As my teammates and I warmed up, a high lob came my way. I extended my arm and opened my glove, but instead of catching it in my mitt, the ball smacked me in the nose. I couldn’t believe it! How did that happen? During a subsequent game, a batter launched a ball into left-center field, and without hesitation, I yelled, “MINE!” Unexpectedly and with a decisive thud, the ball plopped onto the ground. Embarrassed and confused, I chased the ball while the batter made it safely onto the base. After struggling through many games, it was suggested that I get my eyes checked. The thought of seeing an eye doctor had never crossed my mind.

A specialist informed me that I was near-sighted and that glasses were in order. Wouldn’t it interfere with my ability to play? This seemed like a nuisance at best. Eventually I acquiesced and bought a pair of glasses, and my vision was corrected to 20/20. From the outfield, it was now possible to see the catcher, batter, and even fly balls as they careened through starry night skies.

Everyday life was full of newfound clarity! Street signs and billboards became legible, and it was stunning how far down the road that my corrected eyes could see. Glasses eventually led to contact lenses, not only improving my softball skills but also my ability to drive and work.

Like my myopic eyes, the human spirit is broken and in need of help. While vision can be corrected with glasses or contacts, our spiritual vision must be repaired by God. Once we humble ourselves and receive salvation in Jesus (Romans 10:9-10), the Holy Spirit can correct our understanding of life here on earth as well as life after death. The main tool that the Holy Spirit uses to equip Christians is Scripture. If we do not read the Bible, we will be stunted in our growth and grope blindly through life. We will not understand God’s storyline, and how we fit in. Application of Scripture will be difficult, and we can fail to thrive. We will be relegated to a kind of spiritual bench, never able to mature, nor fully stepping into the life and mission that God has called us to. We will spiritually drop the ball. In Hebrews 5:14 Paul teaches, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Without glasses, I cannot do things such as drive, play softball, or read a recipe. Without regularly reading Scripture, Christians cannot learn about God, grow in their faith, or prepare for life’s difficulties. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31).

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