10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[c] who gives me strength.
Interesting about this passage. Often when we see this these days we think of famous athletes who go and win championships and claim their power to be a super athlete comes from Christ. I don't doubt that it does, but we don't often stop to think about the context in which Paul was speaking. Paul was not talking about being a some stellar athlete, which I am pretty sure he was not. He was talking about the strength it takes to walk in the way of the Lord on a daily basis. Living our lives a day at a time in a way that is honorable to the Lord. Whether he was picking himself up off the ground from being nearly stoned to death or simply sitting in the company of good friends enjoying a meal, Paul was running on Christ power.
My 8 year old daughter, Emma, loves baseball. She plays 2nd base on her little league team and she doesn't seem the least bit phased by the fact that she is 1 of about 4 girls in her league. Emma just loves to play baseball.
I have always said that Emma is a clutch player. She may not be the fastest player or she may not throw the hardest (though she does throw really well), but she always manages to make a play when her team needs her.
Today was truly amazing. Emma's team, the Indians, was in a tight match up with the Yankees. The lead had changed throughout the game. It was getting close to time expiring. Emma's team was down by a run and the other team was starting to really heat up. WAIT. I need to back up a bit.
I should mention something else about Emma. She understands that baseball is a game of mechanics. No not a bunch of guys named Ray fixing cars. It is about learning a skill and repeating the same skill over and over until you perform the skill without thinking, until is comes natural. In Emma's last game she struggled a bit at the plate and only got one hit. I also think she has been frustrated with her batting in general. Last night after her regular practice, Emma got a chance to go to a batting cage and get in some extra practice. I got to sit next to her and put ball after ball on the tee as she methodically drove the balls into a net. Emma must have hit a hundred balls off of the tee and then she went and took 20 more pitches from the pitching coach, who gave her some good tips on her technique. She was drenched in sweat. I was impressed with how hard she was working.
OK back to the game. Emma had one hit earlier in the game, but she struck out at her last at-bat. As Emma came up to the plate, I was afraid for her. Things were really tight and I know she did not want to let her team down. Emma's first pitch was a ball. The next pitch was a foul that soared over the right field fence. On the next pitch, Emma swung and hit a line drive that went through the gap between first and second base and went all the way to the fence. Emma took off running. She turned first base and then rounded second. The other team was just getting to the ball. She kept going to third and honestly I thought that would be it, but they were still throwing the ball in. Emma kept going and trotted across home plate. She drove in 3 runs and gave her team a lead that was enough to win the game. Her parents were hoarse and beaming with pride. Emma just smiled and tried to catch her breath.
There was much hoopla after the game. Emma got a game ball and my wife and I went on and on about how amazing her 3-run game winning homer was. Emma continued to smile, but was reluctant to say much about it. I knew she was elated, but she was amazingly humble.
Later as we talked about the big play, Emma said something that made me really stop and think. She said, "It didn't feel like I swung very hard at all. I just made an easy swing and got a hit." And the ball went to the fence. I honestly never dreamed that Emma would ever hit a home run. But what was truly amazing is that even though Emma was the hero for the day, she was pleased with what happened but remained incredibly humble.
Maybe you don't see it, but for me this was an example of how God wants me to live my life. Keep my eyes on Him, go to Him daily in prayer, hunger for His Word and don't worry about how things are going to work out. He wants me to rely on Him and not on myself. If I can be true to God and diligent in living my life for Him, He will continue to provide for me.
I have completely "dropped the ball" this week on doing the daily things with God that I need to draw on His strength. I have failed to complete my Bible study and I have found myself being critical of others and looking for opportunities to gossip. I guess you could say, I struck out this week.
God forgive me for failing to connect with you this week. I am sorry that I have been slipping back into some old routines that are destructive to my health and my attitude. Thank you for my sweet family. They are such a tremendous blessing to me. I will do better.
Matthew West has a song about getting your strength from God to make it through the challenges of your life.