Using the right tools.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
2 Peter 1:5-7
When I was twelve, my dad was my baseball coach. I specifically remember a game when we just weren’t able to get on base. They had a great pitcher, but it was more than that – we weren’t responding well to him. Instead of evaluating the pitch and choosing to swing or not – we all just started swinging. Their pitcher threw hard and fast, so I am sure that this was a knee-jerk reaction to feeling “bested” by him when that pitch was coming.
As I walked up to the plate my coach (my dad) walked down the third base line and said to me quietly: “Just take the first pitch, he isn’t throwing strikes, he is just throwing it hard.” I thought it an odd request at the time. I stepped in the batters box, lifted my bat up above my shoulder and readied myself for the pitch. His wind up was big with a lot of emotion, wild even. I felt the adrenaline level rise within me, as I feared my arms wouldn’t be able to react fast enough. I was anxious and it was causing me not to focus on the ball – I was focusing on him.
He whipped that ball-filled hand back and in that moment everything slowed down for me. My coach’s words sank deep and I relaxed a bit. This pitch I was just watching and this pitch couldn’t beat me. I didn’t have to prove anything on this pitch – but he did. That “wild” arm slung around and coming towards me was, likely, the fastest pitch I had ever faced in baseball up to this point. This time though, I waited patiently and I watched. Even though the pitcher’s wind-up and delivery emotionally charged me to respond, I exerted some self-control and didn’t. I watched the ball all the way past me and into the catcher’s mitt. “Ball” rang from the umpire’s voice.
I looked up at a pitcher who had been wearing us out for three innings and it was a look of shock on his face. I wasn’t shocked though; I watched the pitch. I watched the next one, then the next. Then the frustrated pitcher slowed down and started controlling his wind up and, with a slower delivery, tried to ensure a more perfect placement over the plate. Pitch number four would have been a strike if I hadn’t hit it to deep right field. My patience and self-control allowed me to be ready for the perfect pitch. Patience and self-control were the tools I needed to beat this pitcher. Not a faster swing. My coach knew this.
As Christians, we have all the tools we need if we choose to add them to our lives. Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection and love for everyone. These are the tools we need to embrace the tension around us and do so in a way that shows obedience to God - and these are the tools God provides.
Think about: Where is one area of tension that I can “add” these tools in? What is a practical obedience that I am lacking right now, that when employed, will help me to follow Christ closer?
Pray: God, you are the best coach, you have all the experience, you know better than I do. Help me to lean into your “tools” today as I seek to obey you.