Shawn Simpson serves as the Director of Technical Arts and Operations at The Church of the Resurrection’s West campus in Olathe, KS.
When I read today’s GPS, my first thought was: “Oh great, I get to talk about being a loving Christian. That’s right in my wheelhouse.” That’s sarcasm, by the way. I struggle mightily with being a person who shows love as Jesus commands, but I’m good at being sarcastic.
So rather than boring you with how much I struggle and how I really need to work on being a better example of a loving Christian, I’ll tell you about somebody who models it every day of his life.
My oldest son is a highly competitive baseball player. That means I spend a lot of time at the ball field with other parents of highly competitive baseball players. The boys love to play baseball. The parents most often love to complain about the umpires, coaches, league, and other parents. One man that I’ve spent a lot of time around is different.
In the spring of this year, our son’s teams were playing in a tournament. We’d played each other a bunch of times that year and were mostly split on the wins and losses. They were like a “brother” team because all of our kids knew all of theirs and had a lot of respect for each other. In this particular tournament, we hadn’t played each other yet, but were progressing through the bracket to hopefully play each other for the championship. And then…we had one of those games…with one of those umpires…actually two of those umpires…and it was hot…and we were tired…and I’m using a lot of ellipsis in this sentence…
Yeah, so we had some massively blown calls from a couple of super lazy and blind, ummm, really nice young men that God loves. We lost the game by one run on a heartbreaking call that ended our day. We were pretty upset because even if God loves them, they weren’t terribly popular with our parents. So now this other team heads over to play in the championship game against our friends. My son wanted to go watch the game and root for his buddies…because he’s really GOOD at showing the whole loving heart thing. He gets that from his mom.
As we’re saying hello to everyone and rehashing the awful umpires, my friend, whom I’ve spent hours talking youth baseball with, is able to smack me across the face with Christian love. As we see the umpires coming out for the game, I’m surprised to see that it’s the same pair that had just called our game. I look at my friend and get ready to start pouring out all of my angst. Just before I do, he says, “Hey, that’s the kid I gave the pocket testament to earlier today!”
I’m not sure if I heard him right, so I ask him what he’s talking about. He goes on to tell me that the young man was the umpire at his earlier game and my friend was coaching at third base. He’d made a call on one of their kids getting thrown out at third; and the kid had just gotten up and dusted himself off, then patted the third baseman on the arm before he ran back to the dugout. The umpire told my friend that he was really impressed with what a good sport that kid was and my friend had told him “I teach the kids to keep a rulebook handy, and it says to love other people.” The umpire was a little confused until my friend brought out a pocket testament and showed him his “rulebook.” Then he gave it to the umpire and told him to keep it. The umpire stuck it in his back pocket. Then after the game he thanked him and told him that he’s been trying to get his life on track and had just started going back to church and he’d never had his own bible.
Now I’m looking out at the field and seeing this guy who less than an hour earlier HAD to have been near bursting into flames from all the vicious looks we were giving him, except I see that he still has the outline of a bible in his back pocket. In that moment, my friend who is an excellent baseball coach and extremely attentive single parent to three young children also became a model of Christian love to me. Even with all the great things his team had done that day to win their games and get into the championship, he was most proud of the fact that he’d given a bible to somebody who had never had one of their own. Since that night, I’ve seen those young men who come out to call our baseball games in a new light. I still wear them out during the game, but I make it a point to give them some love when it’s all over.
Maybe one day I’ll learn to sit quietly and watch my son play baseball. (Remember that sarcasm thing? Yeah, that was it.)
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.