Andrews UMC has been playing church-league softball. It’s a co-ed league that uses a spongy, oversized, bouncy ball. It’s so bouncy that sometimes pitchers will dribble it as they wait for the next batter to step to the plate. This presents some challenges when fielding.
Although I’ve been playing my favorite position – second base – I’ve had some trouble with ground balls. They don’t roll, like a normal softball would, but jump and hop in an unpredictable way. Several have gotten past me.
Before this particular game, I did a little practicing. I had my teammates throw me ground balls. As I caught each one, I told myself, “Get in front of it; don’t be afraid.”
It paid off in our game. A batter hit one my way, the ball tumbling and bouncing along the dusty clay field. “Get in front of it; don’t be afraid,” I told myself. I scooped it up; I threw it to first. I got the out. I felt very self-satisfied.
Until the end of the inning, that is.
As we trotted off the field, David, our shortstop and team captain, flagged me down. “Mary,” he said, “what do I need to do to get your attention on the field? When you got that grounder, I was standing on second base, ready for the double play. I yelled your name, but you never looked my way.”
I missed the play, and didn’t even know it.
And I never would have known it, if David hadn’t pointed it out to me. I might even have gone on to make the same mistake multiple times. Thank goodness he let me know.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” At first impression this is a friendly reminder to help each other out. But if we step back a verse, it has something to do with the good coaching I got on the field that day.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1).
Bearing one another’s burdens has to do with sin. More specifically, with helping each other to stop sinning.
I believe sometimes we are called to do this by pointing out a mistake to someone we know and love. We must do this gently, carefully, and never without a foundation of trust. David did this for me; he didn’t yell, he didn’t embarrass me, and he pointed out my mistake so I wouldn’t repeat it.
I haven’t forgotten about a double play opportunity since then.