When I was in college, there was one week per year when I skipped at least half of my classes. I DID NOT get this approved by my instructors, and I didn’t have what would be considered a valid excuse. On the flip side, I didn’t make up a lie and try to fool anyone. But there was a week when if I had a class after 1 p.m., I was not going to be there. I would get the notes from a friend, and study, and read the assigned material, but my presence was not felt in the lecture halls.
It was when the Division II College Baseball World Series was in town.
I would buy the pass for the whole tournament for the same price as if attending three games. It was a deal! Back then Hot Dogs were cheap, large Cokes were cheaper, and it was a great place to work on my farmer tan. I would take my school work there and take in ballgames from 1 til sometimes midnight every day for 10 days! If you don’t like baseball, I totally understand, and this is not about the value of being a baseball fan.
The games were played at this place, Paterson Field. My experiences there were many, as my summer league baseball team played every game there. When not used by local high schools and colleges, it was the home of the Montgomery Gray Dixie Youth 15-18 yr old league. So, for 4 summers, I would go there for games 2 or 3 times a week. Occasionally, we would practice there, also. It was nice, but to me it was just another kinda nice stadium. I played at least 80 games there, and had been going there to see baseball games since I was a kid. Honestly, in my mind…it was kind of a dump. It was a big facility, but not very nice, and…well…a dump.
Cal St.- Chico was a school who had teams there almost every single year. They were an awesome program. Not only were they there a lot, but they usually advanced deep into the tournament, and won it all a couple times. There was one year, though, that they changed my perspective about this whole thing.
I was sitting behind their fans, watching a game, and on the back of their t-shirts in HUGE letters was the phrase “GET BACK TO BAMA.”
This got me to thinking…there are currently 281 Division II schools. Probably 250 have baseball programs. And EVERY team when they began practice had the sole focus of doing everything they could to get to Paterson Field?!? Which I took for granted. Where I had been so many times I cannot count. A place I considered a ragged old outdated ballpark. They spent countless hours and massive amounts of emotional and physical energy trying to go where I drive by daily and don’t think twice about!
Not a perfect analogy by any means, but it has me thinking lately to my friend Joe’s visit to China. And how the believers there have to hide that they are meeting. They have to be careful of what time they arrive to meet as to not cause suspicion, spacing out when they arrive. Then once there, they don't watch the clock to make sure they get out in exactly one hour!!! And many have been persecuted and disowned for their faith.
Can you IMAGINE if we gave them the opportunity to meet in one of our mega-churches (more like palaces in many countries) here in the US? What if they could meet in a church where the billboard displays the time for all to see and welcomes anyone through the doors?
This may sound like I am bashing large churches and their state-of-the-art facilities. But the fact of the matter is, if the persecuted church around our planet could meet in a “dump” of a church by our standards, they would be thankful. Overjoyed even.
Amazing how I take for granted the freedoms we have. How many religious facilities do I drive by daily, not considering how fortunate I am.
“FATHER Please forgive me for my ungratefulness. And BLESS those who are ministering and mentoring and discipling at the risk of nothing short of death.”
Luke 12:47-48 (King James Version)
And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.