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Worry and softball

Jesus says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

As Christians, we are called not to worry, but to respond with faith in God. Good advice, but not easy to follow. How do you stop worrying?

For example: my now-grown daughter, Lisa, played softball since she was 5 years old. Watching 5-year-olds in cute, little uniforms run around the ballfield is a treat. Lisa was so tiny no one could throw her a strike so standing at home plate, Lisa waited for the pitcher to throw four balls and then proudly walked to first base. She never took the bat off her shoulder that year.

Nine years later, Lisa is swinging the bat and pitching for her school team. At the first game of the season I was one proud Dad, but I was also worried. When a team wins, everyone loves the pitcher, but when they lose the pitcher is a goat. I imagined the fans booing my little girl.

The game went without a hitch. Lisa pitched smoothly, the team played well, and we won. It was a joy to watch. I could be a proud dad and enjoy the moment.

The next game, however, was a disaster. Lisa didn’t pitch well, and the team was not playing or hitting their best either. Each inning was torture. We would bat for a few minutes. They would bat for what seemed like hours as hitters were popping the ball in every direction. Lisa and the team got more discouraged and Dad worried.

What could I say to cheer up my daughter? “Lisa, you need to put things in perspective. Winning is not everything.” I had my speech ready.

But Lisa came home with a smile on her face just like usual. She was excited about being a counselor at the children’s retreat and getting together with some of her friends. I thought to myself,“What about losing the big game?” My pep talk on worry went unused.

Then it hit me on the head like a missed fly ball.

I’m the one who needed the speech on worry. Lisa was fine. Dad was sitting in the stands fretting over every pitch showing absolutely no confidence in his daughter’s ability to handle herself in tough situations. Dad was the one who needed to understand the crucial difference between faith and worry.

How is your faith? In your family, in your co-workers, in your friends, in God?

Does worry interfere with your faith? Here is what Jesus says to you: …seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Would you like to worry less and have more faith? Seek first His kingdom which simply means, spend more of your time studying God’s Word, praying and attending church. I don’t know how it works. I only know without a doubt that faith works. Test me and try it for yourself.

Can we really stop worrying? Probably not, but we can learn to worry less as faith deepens.

If worry is poison, faith is God’s antidote. The stronger our faith, the less we worry.

How? We stop depending on ourselves and learn to seek God’s will. We spend more time on our knees in prayer. A friend once told me: “Larry, rather than worry all night, wouldn’t it be smarter to pray half the night and then sleep comfortably until morning?” Sound advice.

Replacing worry with faith enables me to pray for my children but allows them to grow up.

Replacing worry with faith permits me to work hard and leave the results to God.

Replacing worry with faith helps me relax and truly value my friends and family.

Replacing worry with faith strengthens my faith in the God who always loves me.

It’s been said that ulcers are caused not by what you eat, but by what is eating you. Maybe you need to replace your human worries with heavenly trust.

Whether you are going through a tragedy or a tough softball game the answer is the same. “Seek first his kingdom and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Do you worry?

Seek first the kingdom, and God will give you strength. When there is a tragedy, develop your faith in God and do your part to help yourself and others cope.

Lisa is grown now, with a son who may soon play ball. Pray that his grandpa will learn to practice what he preaches.

Rev. Larry E. Davies can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.