March 20, 2017

Baseball had always been a major part of my life. When I was a young boy, my father would come home after a long day at work and play catch in the front yard with me. I loved playing in games and looking up and seeing my mother and father in the stands cheering me on. As I entered 10th grade, I moved from the intermediate school to the high school and that meant I had to try out for the high school baseball team at the large Houston high school where I attended. After a week of practices and tryouts, the coach called me into his office. He told me that I would make the high school team, but I would remain on the bench and not see any playing time. He told me that he was letting me know in case I didn’t want to be on a team where I would be sitting on the bench. I was so disappointed – I had played baseball since I was eight years old. I couldn’t imagine not being able to play. I then told him that I hoped to prove him wrong.

Of course now I have an understanding that getting to play baseball isn’t one of the most important things of life – but when I was a 16-year-old boy, I felt that it was. I was determined to not only be on the team, but also get to play. But one of the difficult things about a team sport is that once the season begins, it is through actual playing on the field that you demonstrate how well you are doing. If you don’t have any time in a game, it is difficult to show that you are playing well enough to be in the game. It seemed like an impossible situation. But I had grown up with the support and faith of two wonderful parents. They encouraged me to give my very best and to trust God for results.
I worked as hard as I possibly could. I gave 100% in every practice throughout that year and into the next. I wouldn’t give up, and by my junior year I earned a starting position on the team. By my senior year I was hitting leadoff in the lineup and then finished with a .533 batting average, highest in the city of Houston, and made the All-City Houston All Star Team.
I faced an impossible situation for a 16-year-old boy, but I discovered a valuable lesson. If you work hard and refuse to give up on your passions, it could be that it forces you to focus on what is most important to you. Being denied any playing time as a sophomore probably made me a better player by the time I was a senior because I had to work so hard to achieve it. It puts you in a position that you have to become even better at the things that are most important to you. Sometimes God encourages by helping us to focus on what is meaningful. God gives us strength and hope to make the impossible, possible.
Dr. Bob Long, Senior Pastor