Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saturday Morning Devotional:
Answering Calls ...

Saturday mornings this time of year find me working the floor of the gymnasium at our church in Midland, offering halftime devotionals during Upward Basketball games. I was inspired to prepare this week's devotional by headline in the sporting news, about a young man, a minor league baseball player who was doing so well, that most figured it would be just a matter of time till he was called-up to play in the majors. Well, he answered a call, alright … but it was not the call that many expected.

Upward, by the way, is one of the the world’s largest Christian sports program for children, and was created with a vision to provide the best sports experience possible for every child. An estimated 1-million people around the world play, coach, referee or volunteer in some way to support Upward sports activities, hosted by more than 2,600 churches - there are four churches here, in Midland, including my own First Presbyterian.

The organization notes that, "anyone – children and volunteers of any faith or no faith – can participate in Upward sports. Specifically designed for children in K5- sixth grade, Upward aims to bring out 'the winner' in every child – regardless of the game’s score."

Really, not a bad venue for discussing someone like Grant Desme, a player in the Oakland A’s organization. In the eyes of many, he might have had it all - the promising professional baseball career, the six-figure signing bonus and the life many a boy has dreamed of. But I guess, in his own eyes, there was something more important than all of that. Last week, he announced he was retiring from professional baseball in order to enter a seminary this fall, in hopes of someday becoming a Catholic priest.

The news of that announcement, and the controversy - yes, controversy - it generated among some observers, remoinded me of a line of Scripture, from the Old Testament, Isaiah 6: 8 ...

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" (NIV)

I suggested at Saturday's devotional that - as many of those in the stands knew, and as many of the youngsters out there on the floor were learning - we hear many different calls in the course of our lives …

… maybe it’s a call from a parent, a teacher or a coach to make that extra effort, to aim higher, to work harder …

… maybe it’s a call from your country to serve in the armed forces …

… maybe it’s a call from your heart to enter into a lifelong and loving relationship with someone …

… maybe it’s a call from your conscience to engage in protest or civil disobedience …

… maybe it’s a call from family, a friend – or even a perfect stranger – to step up and help in a time of need …

… or - as in Desme's case - maybe it’s a call from the Lord to follow another path – one very different from the path you had set for yourself.

I acknowledged that not everyone may agree with how we answer these, and other calls. But I went on to suggest that, if we listen carefully to those calls – not just with our ears, but with our mind and our heart – the answers will come to us much more easily.

I reminded everyone in the stands that they had been called to get up early on a cold (24°F) Saturday morning, and head out of the house. I thanked them for answering that call the way they did, for being there for the kids that morning, and cheering them on.

By the way, whoever you are and wherever you are, we would love to have you on our team! If you're the parent of a youngster who wants to play basketball, soccer, flag football or cheer, chances are
Upward has a league or camp near you. What? No kids? No problem ... Upward programs always need volunteers to coach teams, to referee games, to operate game clocks, to rustle-up snacks for the kids, or offer devotionals at halftime.

I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday morning.

2 comments:

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

I think I'm due at an Upward event this coming Saturday. I love it!

Jeff said...

Janie, lots to love ... it's a great time, for the kids and the fans.