Shhhh. I am going to have to sneak to write this because this subject has been strictly forbidden in our household. Even if you are not a baseball fan, or, more importantly, Dodger fan like my husband has been from the womb, you will no doubt feel the sting of this replay.
In the 9th inning of the 2020 World Series game 4 the Dodgers were beating the Rays 7-6 with 2 outs. Seemed like a slam-dunk (even thought that is more of a basketball-y word🙃) for the Dodgers. The batter was not one that Dodger fans were particularly concerned about. He was average and not too much of a threat. We were already celebrating in our little hearts.
What happened next caused me to awake the next morning wondering if I had dreamt the whole thing. It was like a clip from “The Bad News Bears” (Anyone remember that movie? Look it up!) The hitter who no one was afraid of defied the odds and cracked one over the shortstops head. The right fielder fumbled the catch, wasting a couple of seconds. One runner had already scored to tie the game. And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it got far worse. The right fielder threw it home to the catcher who was poised, blocking the plate from the runner who was rounding 3rd. As the runner flew past 3rd, he tripped and literally fell to the ground. At that moment the ball reached the catcher who spun his glove around, causing the ball to shoot out of his glove and roll away. The runner, who thought he was done for, got a second chance. He jumped up and plowed toward home to win the game 8-6. This all happened in about 20 seconds.
I was in the kitchen and heard, “You’ve got to be kidding me!!!!” Then, silence. A long, scary silence.
We are still stunned 2 days later. How could something that seemed so right go so wrong so quickly?
I am studying the book of James (James was the brother of Jesus, in case you care) so naturally, my head went to one of the lessons I am trying to learn from his teaching. Here is the lesson from James 4:13-17:
You are not God. It’s arrogant to think you know what will happen in the future. Make plans but hold them loosely because God’s plans for you may not match your small, human-minded plans. His are better. Always say, “if it’s God’s will I will do this or that” and then lean in to the miracles he puts in your path that would have never crossed your mind. Remember that sometimes unwanted circumstances thwart your plans, but God will not abandon you. He will walk through you in those times.
And never ever trick yourself into thinking that you know the ending. Never ever assume that the game is over until it’s over.
That goes for the good and the bad.
Just when you think it’s safe to assume you know what’s coming, you can be assured that you will be surprised — which sounds terrifying to me at first, until I realize it frees me up to live in the moment and cherish it for what it has to offer. I can trust God with the future and know he will walk me through whatever comes my way. I have had a bit of personal experience in this, in the small stuff as well as the biggies like cancer and the family disease of addiction.
I have read the passage in James dozens of times over the years. Back in college, when my brain was sharper, I actually memorized the entire five-chapter book of James. I have decided to take this year to study and actually ask God to help me live out the principles of the very practical book — to make them a part of my daily walk, not just a script in my head.
I mean, who better to learn from than from someone who actually grew up with Jesus in the same house! On a side note, think about that for a minute. No pressure or opportunity for resentment there! And you thought it was rough being compared to your siblings!
The book of James is where many of the 12 Steps from Recovery Groups originated. Simple and straightforward ways to live life on life’s terms. Simple, but not easy to implement, especially when our ego gets in the way. When we forget that we are not God and do not know the future.
I have seen this principle played out in many areas of my life. The “just when you think” principle. …just when you think you will never change, get a job, find a mate, be free of addiction, rage, anxiety, depression. …just when you think your marriage is done for, your kids will never leave home or never come back.
Just when you think God can’t be trusted and doesn’t see or hear you, he sends a sign: a new friend, a kind word, an encouraging text from an old friend, a bible verse, a rainbow, a feather or a bee (more on that later…).
I always wondered about the last sentence of this set of verses. It doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the message:
“So, you know the right thing that you ought to do. But if you know that and you do not do the right thing, then you have done a wrong thing.”
Huh? That seemed totally off in left field until today — no dig at that poor Dodger outfielder intended! I think James finished up with that last verse to point us back to the present and living out our walk with God.
The only opportunity we have to serve and love others is right now. So, if you know that but are too busy planning for the future or are always telling yourself that you will “do it tomorrow, next week or sometime in the future” but never actually do it (call that friend, serve the poor, share your story or your stuff, etc), you are sinning.
Which is quite an indictment when we usually think of “sinning” as the bad stuff we do. James tells us that if you know what you should do but don’t do it you are sinning. He strongly urges us to live knowing tomorrow may never come. Is your side of the street clean? Would you be ready if tomorrow doesn’t come? Feel free to make plans, but hold them loosely and make the most of today. God is God, and thank God almighty, you are not.
Here’s a worthwhile mantra for today and maybe everyday:
Hold it all loosely