I played baseball from my earliest childhood. I think I was born with a bat in my hand. I played three years of Pee Wee League, four years of Little League, and four years of High School ball. And for all of those years, every time a kid drew four balls while in the batter’s box and walked, I would hear the coach say this same thing, “That’s OK kid. A walk is as good as a hit.”
I knew what these coaches meant; and what the phrase meant. It meant that the player got on first base and that he was a potential run. He didn’t strike out, ground out or fly out. He was on base and that was as good as if he had hit for a single.
I also knew that coaches would use the phrase with more gusto when a poor hitter, who usually struck out or hit for an out, walked; because when he got to first it was a reason to celebrate. It was also a way to encourage a less gifted hitter for getting on first. Some hitters, especially in Little League, were scared to even swing the bat. They would tentatively enter the batter’s box and subconsciously pray for a miracle.
But I have always doubted the phrase. I really never believed that a walk was as good as a hit.
My theory was confirmed when I went to a major league game with my son the other night. A batter for the home team had gotten a hit and had stolen second. The crowd was cheering for another hit to drive him home. The fans were cheering the batter on. The decimal level of the crowd was rising and the excitement level of the stadium was reaching fever pitch.
And then the umpire said, “Ball Four.”
It seemed that all the energy drained out of the crowd. That was when I was reminded of the phrase. And I thought…that walk sure didn’t seem as good as a hit. But that wasn’t when I decided that the phrase wasn’t true.
In fact, it was the next pitch that confirmed my theory. The next pitch was grounded by the next batter into a double play at third and first to end the inning.
A hit would have been profoundly better than a walk for that batter, because, not only would it have knocked in a run; it would have eliminated a force out at third and first to generate a double play…which conversely ended the inning.
I’ve learned that the same is true in life. A walk is not as good as a hit.
Take my relationship with my wife for instance. Before she was my wife she was my girlfriend and before that she was merely a hope for a hit. And I was not about to take a pitch.
Let me explain. I thought I detected a flirt. So I went for it. I asked her out once and she said no…strike one. I asked her out twice…strike two. But I rallied myself. I asked again and this time she said yes. Base hit! We’ve been together for nearly fifty years. Had I taken a pitch—that is—had I been passive and let opportunities go by, I would have lost her.
That was David’s perspective in the Bible. When he saw the giant Goliath he didn’t hesitate. He wanted in the game and into the batter’s box. He said, “Put me in coach. I’ll get a hit…piece of cake.” He was very ready to swing the bat. And swing it he did, in the form of a swirling slingshot. He didn’t just get a hit. He hit a grand slam.
When he was ridiculed by his brothers, he could have taken a pitch by walking away shamed. He could have done the same when the king tried to discourage him. He could have taken a third ball when King Saul’s armor didn’t fit and a fourth when Goliath thundered his insult that David was nothing more than a child facing him.
But David stepped up to the plate and won the championship with one swing of the bat…or slingshot.
There are too many passive believers out there; taking pitches one after the other. Maybe they get to first now and then, but they are left on base at the end of innings with regularity, scoring no runs in their personal lives or for God’s kingdom.
Faith in Christ says step out of the boat. Peter did and he walked on water (Matthew 14:29). Trust God, take a chance, like the lady with the issue of blood who was healed in an unheard of way (Mark 5:27-28). Step up to the plate and take a swing like blind Bartimaeus who would not be deterred by critics (Mark 10: 47-52).
Don’t get me wrong…there is a time to take pitches. But I believe our attitude as believers should be that we only take pitches to set ourselves up for the next perfect pitch to hit. And then be ready to swing for the fences, because since we serve Christ, the right pitch will come.
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