Twenty-plus years ago, in my south Florida heyday, I made a sign-up sheet for co-ed softball. I was an unmarried Northern transplant, stepping into life at a new church. And it seemed the church singles’ ministry was ripe for some bonding and a little outreach.
My capability as a softball player was below average—which meant I would embarrass myself only once a game. But this team had as many “ringers” as wedding rings, so I became the starting shortstop. We were a hodgepodge of the hardly acquainted and barely coordinated. And we were family.
My capability as a softball player was below average—which meant I would embarrass myself only once a game.
On Fridays and Sundays we worshipped together, Mondays and Saturdays we practiced, and Thursdays we played. This constant togetherness was the relationship equivalent of a long, high ball to deep center field. The author of Hebrews might have slapped out a high-five for us “not forsaking our own assembling together” (Heb. 10:25).
After practice, we’d clomp dustily into a favorite chain restaurant, all matchy in our hunter green uniform shirts. The bright gold letters on the front proclaimed that we were Angels, a little nudge to let others in on our Christianity. Yes, we’d stumbled onto a unique way “to stir up one another to love” (Heb. 10:24 ESV), but making our faith known in a love that produces “good works” was the greater challenge.
We prayed in our dugout before games and conducted ourselves in a godly manner (so long as the umpire’s calls weren’t egregiously wrong). We were kind to our opponents, and forgave each other’s miscues just as God in Christ had forgiven us. Then one game we got our chance to do a little more.
The opposing batter hit a chopper to first, the ball was fielded, and the lead runner got thrown out at third. For a group of ragtag athletes, this was perfection. But our third baseman got greedy and threw to second. The ball shot like a rocket, wide of the glove at second, and into the jaw of the base runner. Players from both teams swept onto the field, concerned horror on every face. The Angels clasped hands and reached for the sweaty backs of the other team, and we prayed. It was an expression of faith easily recognized, and a rare but important win for our team.
The tropical weather kept our softball team together for consecutive seasons all year round. And the climate was conducive not only for brotherly love but also for matrimony. Two marriages were spawned from that team, including my lifelong affection for the second basegirl.