I was big and strong for my age in Little League baseball. Once I hit a line shot right at the pitcher and it hit him directly in the chest, knocking him down hard. He had trouble breathing and they took him out of the game. Later he said he never saw the ball coming because it was hit so hard and fast. His parents were understandably upset at his injury and expressed kindness to me that, “It wasn’t my fault, it was an accident.”
Another game had me trying to score a run from second base and as I slide into home plate, I collided with the catcher (who was half my size), and the result of the impact was a broken left leg for the catcher. As he was carted off the field, several parents yelled I was too big to play with their sons and one actually said I was menace.
These are two incidents I remember that made me cringe when I was a kid. I could not help it that I was big for my age, but allowed to play with other kids in organized sports leagues. I was more highly skilled than most of my fellow players and that enabled me to excel at many sports and games. I learned that I often threatened other participants with my size and abilities.
After the broken leg incident, the father of the boy approached my dad and me in the parking lot and said he and his wife did not hold any bad feelings toward me. I replied that it was not my intention of breaking his son’s leg, but the size difference somehow contributed to the awkward collision. The dad added that their son felt the same way and there was nothing to be ashamed about. He said, “Don’t let the anger of some loudmouth parents suggest you should stop playing and quit. There is nothing wrong with what you did in the moment of competition and you should keep playing hard as you have done.” My father and I were grateful for his kind words. In many ways, I felt “forgiven” by the catcher’s dad by his words and actions towards me.
Read Micah 7:17-19.
The prophet Micah revealed a forgiving God when he spoke out against the sin(s) of ancient Israel. He described Yahweh as One, “who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of His inheritance” (Micah 7:18).
Micah looked to the future in some ways with hope and proclaimed that the Lord, “does not stay angry forever, but delights to show mercy” (verse 18). Micah realized that God would not hold past sins against His people if they responded with repentance for their actions.
The God that Micah knew has and will forgive you and me as we confess our sin(s) to Him. But many of us also have to forgive ourselves. If you hang onto the sins, failures, and mistakes of the past (and even the present), you will not be able to serve Jesus with your whole heart today.
I was not happy to see players carted off the field due to my actions, and it certainly was not intentional on my part. Even though a parent said I was a menace, I never took it personally, thought about quitting, or believed I needed to be forgiven for my actions. The parents who took time to console me gave me the encouragement, freedom, and confidence to keep playing.
Walk wisely. Remember the forgiveness of God. Receive it. Let go of the past. Forgive yourself and press on to know and serve Jesus.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz