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Friday, September 30, 2011

Baseball and spiritual disciplines

I was finishing Tim Challies’ excellent book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment and came across this paragraph:
Roy Halladay is the Toronto Blue Jays' ace pitcher and is one of the top players in baseball. Halladay has a well-established routine that begins as soon as a game is complete and continues until the next game has begun five or six days later. He has another routine that takes him from the end of one season to the beginning of the next. And, like many players, he has a routine that takes him from pitch to pitch. His off-season regimen, which prepares him for a long and grueling season of baseball, is legendary, and it readies more than his arm. To prepare his mind he reads The Mental ABC's of Pitching seven or eight times every season. To hone his concentration he carries with him a series of laminate grids filled with a hundred randomly numbered squares that he crosses off in order, from 00 to 99, with an erasable marker. "Every day that I'm not pitching, I'm doing something that's going to help me when I'm out there, not just vegging on the bench or in the hotel room," he says.[1]
This paragraph deeply challenges me. I have spoken of this matter in sermons and other occasions as I have previously read of and reflected on the example of professional athletes. Many are hugely disciplined individuals that have rigorous practices in their life that lead to their tremendous effectiveness. It always challenges me to think that if they can do that to more effectively play football, basketball or baseball, then why am I not more disciplined in my pursuit to be like Jesus. Why am I not more disciplined in my pursuit to transform this world for Jesus Christ? This provoked my to a great deal of writing and praying about how I might most strategically structure my life to accomplish God’s purposes.

For Roy Halladay, it’s pitching (or was, I don’t follow baseball enough to know if he is still active.) Is there one primary thing that God has created you to do, for which you need to structure your life to achieve your greatest possible effectiveness at this task?

[1] Challies, Tim; John MacArthur (2008-03-31). The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (p. 153). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

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