Major League Baseball’s Spring Training will begin soon. For most baseball fans, Spring Training is an exciting time for a number of reasons. As a pastor and Chicago Cubs fan, there are some “theological” reasons that I am excited for Spring Training to begin. So, without further ado, here are five:
1. Spring Training is like the season of Advent for baseball. Advent is the season of preparation and waiting. We prepare for the coming King and we wait for his arrival on Christmas Day. During Spring Training, the players prepare for the season. Fans make arrangements to watch the games. Teams make their final moves to get the players they need for the season. And everyone waits, excited for the season to arrive.
2. In Spring Training, expect the unexpected. Young prospects go into spring training, not expected to do a lot, and end up winning a starting role. Bench players out perform their past and get new opportunities. Starters get injured. The unexpected happens. Sometimes that is good and sometimes that is bad, but you can expect that something unexpected will happen. This is quite often true with God as well. When Jesse lined up his sons for Samuel to choose a king from, it was expected that one of the older, larger, stronger sons would be selected. Yet it was the youngest son, David, the shepherd boy, who was chosen by God. With God, the unexpected is always possible.
3. Spring Training gives you hope for the future. In Spring Training, all things are possible. Every team has a chance to have a good year. Fans get to see some of the young prospects playing who are the future of the team. It is an exciting time. Everyone is looking to the future with hope and possibility. God, through Jesus, has given us a hope for the future. Jesus was raised from the dead and made it possible for us to be raised up as well. We have the hope of a future without pain and suffering and death. We have hope for a new life.
4. Wins and losses don’t matter. In Spring Training, the wins and losses don’t matter. No one is concerned if a team loses all of its games in the preseason because the games don’t count. Spring Training is about the players getting back in shape to play once the season starts. It is about constructing your team with the best players. It is about preparation and practice. Wins and losses mean nothing. Life is not about wins and losses either, though we often like to make it about that. We compare ourselves to others to see who has a better job or a more attractive spouse or more athletic kids or a bigger house. But those things don’t really matter. Life is about preparation. It is about training. It is about doing the work that God wants us to do for his kingdom. It is not about wins and losses.
5. Effort matters more than results. Spring Training is not only not about wins and losses, it is also not about results. A player’s batting average during spring training does not necessarily say anything about how they are doing. Perhaps they are working on adjusting their swing, so the results are not coming yet. Or maybe they are taking really good swings at balls, but simply not getting balls to fall. The results don’t look good, yet their effort is excellent and the skills are obvious. God does not care about our results either. God wants our effort. God wants us to give it our all in serving him, in being faithful to the Word, in loving others. It’s about the effort not the results.
Spring Training is a great time of year that gets baseball fans excited for the season to start. It is a time of preparation, of work, of hope, and of unexpected events. It reminds me of God. Whether you are a baseball fan or not, you might be able to appreciate the thoughts I’ve shared above. What could you add to this list?