I was reading a book about adolescent development today and there was a section about sports. It caused me to heavily reflect upon my time as a high school and college athlete.
I remember training harder than ever in high school so I could be a starter on the Varsity team. My defense skills as a catcher were very strong. My hitting was consistent, but I was not a power hitter. I was a decent single hitter and great a moving my team-mates around the bases. My greatest strength was bunting. Yet, every player longs to hit a home run. I had been trying to hit a home run ever since I could play ball. It was never accomplished. In high school I spent much of my time trying to make my swing more powerful. I remember after one of my best rounds of hitting in the cage every ball was a solid line drive to the back of the net. Hitting the ball like that felt so good! I hit almost an entire bucket of frozen ropes. When I was done I quickly ran over to pick up all the balls and I smiled because I knew my coach was watching. He looked at me and said, “Not bad Ehlert.” My cocky response was, “I am going to hit a home run this year Coach. I have never hit one before and I know this is my year!” I will never forget his discouraging words…
“You will never hit a home run Sami. You are not a power hitter.”
I made it my goal the rest of high school to prove him wrong. I think that’s why my batting was nothing special at the plate. I was batting in frustration and anger. I was batting to say “Screw you coach!”
In college my batting was more consistent but never powerful. I pulled through with many singles and solid bunts. Sometimes a few doubles. I never hit a triple and didn’t come close to a home run. Instead of trying to hit one to prove my coach wrong, I tried hitting one because I wanted to. I prayed frequently that God would help me at least have that glorious feeling of hitting one home run having my team-mates surround me at home plate.
I am not writing you all this to say my prayer was finally answered. Ha! I never hit a home run in my life. (Except in slow pitch softball which should have been a double) I kept thinking God would answer my prayer in the last game of my senior year playing college ball. And at the end of that last game I realized that God answered it in a different way.
At the senior ceremony of the last game when they called my name I walked down the third base line to home plate with my team mates at my side cheering. I heard them say…
“We are going to miss you Sami.”, “Thanks for being a great Captain”, “Thank you for your leadership.”, “You have taught me so much.”, “Thanks for inspiring me.” “You have been such a blessing.”
“We love you!!!”
They didn’t say anything about my stats or my skills. They only mentioned the importance of the relationship I had with them. As I crossed home plate I realized none of my stats mattered, all my errors were gone, every out I failed to make and every crucial hit I made… none of it mattered. What mattered was the inspiration I left with my team mates as I left that field for the final time. And what mattered most, was how God used me that year to shine the light of His love and glory into the lives of others. Now that was sooo much more than a stupid home run I was asking for.
After the season I finished up finalizing my career and wedding plans. After finishing some interviews and getting accepted as a Youth Pastor for my new job I had asked Lesleigh, my mentor from my program, how my church interview went and she said…
“You really hit it out of the park! Definitely a home run!”
God has answered my home run prayer far more than I could have ever have imagined. I hit more home runs in my life than I even knew! I just couldn’t see them because I guess you could say they were spiritual home runs.
That’s where I am in my life right now. I am really happy and I feel like I just hit a home run with everyone cheering me in. Not to say that a ton of rough stuff hasn’t happened. It totally has! But I love my new job even though it’s very hard. I absolutely love the teenagers God has blessed me with. Andrew and I love Nashville. My love for my husband keeps growing every day. My marriage has pretty much been a grand slam! Again, not to say we haven’t had a few strike outs along the way. I realize the game is not over.
Basically, I am trying to say keep your eyes open for God to answer your prayers HIS way and not your way.
For now my prayer is that someday you and I can cross over the home plate in heaven hearing the voice of Christ say, "Welcome Home. Well done Good and Faithful Servant."