Baseball hitterWith the high school basketball season and State Tournament officially behind us (lost in overtime for the championship), it’s now time for baseball to begin. Sunflower seeds. The thump of a ball into a leather glove. Dugout chatter. The crack of a bat. A multitude of signals from coaches to base runners and from the catcher to the pitcher.

And the mental battle between a pitcher and the batter hovered over the plate.

I don’t pretend to understand all that goes into deciding what type of pitch to throw or when to swing rather than show restraint. However, I do know that the ratio of balls to strikes, existence of runners in scoring position, and past performance of the batter all factor into the call for a fast ball, slider, or curveball.

The curveball. Based on the pitcher’s grip and hand movements, the ball is released with a specific spin that causes it to slow down and curve downward as it approaches the plate. The result is a batter who thinks the ball will cross the plate at one level and speed and therefore swings … only to hit air. Or a batter who thinks the ball is coming too high or inside and hesitates … only to have it curve into the zone for a strike. A perfect curveball can disarm the most powerful hitter.

Life throws curveballs, too, and if we don’t react well, we can end up striking out. A financial setback. A vehicle breaking down just days after getting it back from the shop. A diagnosis. A betrayal from a friend. Life doesn’t turn out like we expected and we react emotionally. Fear, anger, frustration, and self-pity send us off course and we’re left standing at home plate wondering what went wrong.

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The secret to facing curveballs is patience. The batter does not have to swing and has the luxury of deciding how to respond to each pitch. Instead of being overwhelmed with the urge to put the ball in play, the batter can often wait for the right pitch, studying the pitcher’s body language and ball’s trajectory for clues. Pausing for just a moment allows the player to react with wisdom rather than emotion. And sometimes anticipating or adjusting to the new path allows the batter to hit it out of the park.

When life throws a curveball, the same patience applies. Is the enemy trying to distract me from my path? Is this yet another example of a fallen world where things break down? Do I have to react emotionally or can I trust that God is still God with a good plan for my life?

With wisdom and patience, I don’t have to swing at curveballs.

What about you? Are you a baseball fan? What’s your favorite part of the game? Have you ever tried to hit a curveball? What curveballs have you faced in life?

Swinging At Curveballs
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