Stay In The Game… Hello weekend readers. I am musing on this title because I am seeing so many people drop out of the game. There seems to be a mass exit in all kinds of jobs, as well as politics, homes, families—people are walking away trying to find something better; or some are tired of the rat-race—you can fill in your scenario on this.

When I retired I knew I would want to write and I love it, but I also know that there is more out there that I can explore instead of my butt sitting on a chair all day. It is easy to move to complacency and sometimes that is ok, but not for long. Even when we retire, God still has plans for us and it isn’t to become couch potatoes!

So often the burdens many of us carry weigh us down and we don’t think we can make any changes for the better. We’re pooped, tired and beat and definitely in need of a gigantic dose of encouragement! For others, it can be financial burdens, health, loss of a job or a job you don’t like. All this and more makes us ‘drop out of the game’. Sadly, we drop out without having another option in place, thus comes even more stress and instability-yikes.

In one of my daily ‘history’ emails, I read a very interesting story about Ralph Houk, called ‘The Manager’ of the New York Yankees. Previously he was a catcher for the Yanks and went from playing to the manager for 1961–1963, 1966–1973. Managing a team with demanding schedules took its toll on many of his players as well as himself, but he never wavered. At that time, more than one doubleheader every week was pretty common. Players were subject to long hours, often getting sick and yes, sick and tired of the grind as well.

One player asked Houk if he could sit out a game. Houk understood, but he gave them a wonderful option: “Sure, you can take this day but I want you to at least play one inning since you are already in the lineup. After that, you can have the rest of the day off.” How did that work out? Well, many players asked for it, but, interestingly, the outcome of one inning never happened. After the first inning they would get caught up in the spirit of the game and with rigor and determination to win, they would play it out until the very end!

Let’s face it, some days—weeks, maybe even years, we wonder how to get out of the slog and get back into the game! That’s when we need to hear the words of Jesus calling to us:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

Sometimes we even sluff off our spiritual lives as well, not feeling like going to church, taking time for prayers or spending time in God’s Word. That’s when the enemy pops up so fast we don’t even realize what is happening. He will deter us from anything to do with faith and try to stop our first step; but we cannot take that ‘easy-out’ approach in life. That is when we take Jesus’ offering of ‘come to me, I will take that burden from you every step of the way.’

Like the ball players, we need to stay in that “one inning”—that one step forward and little by little we find the next one is better, giving us the encouragement to continue on. Those next steps can then continue, giving our worn-out-souls a new spark—ignited with our faith in God who will keep us going forward.

I don’t know how many of you who are reading this are ready to ‘get out of the game’ of life. I urge you to take a ‘first inning’ before you drop everything. Ask God to give you the rest you need and the energy to keep ‘staying in the game’. Perhaps, like the baseball players, we just may enjoy the game a lot more and enjoy our lives knowing God walks beside us no matter where we are. So, play ball! AMEN.