Some years ago, I played on a church softball team. Each summer, we would don our church uniform — a T-shirt with the church name on it and a ball cap — and hit the field.
Practices were sometimes grueling, especially for the older guys; you know, the 45-plus age group. Knees would crack and moans were uttered, as were complaints of having to stretch too far to catch the ball.
Now that I’m way past that age group, I understand their irritations!
But back then, I was my harshest critic. When I didn’t play well, I didn’t need the coach to tell me. I knew. There were times I simply wanted to give up.
The coach would tell me, “Don’t ever give up!” Although it was easy for him to say, it was hard for me to hear.
One time, this coach’s point resonated.
During a game when I was not doing particularly well, I was at bat and swung at a pitch that I was sure would go over the fence. As the grounder I hit made its way to the shortstop at a snail’s pace, I muttered under my breath and half-heartedly ran toward first base, knowing I wouldn’t make it before the shortstop threw the ball to first base. I was tagged out.
The shortstop threw the ball to first base. I stared incredulously as the ball sailed beyond the first baseman’s reach.
With a sudden burst of energy, I hightailed it the rest of the way to first base and arrived safely.
The team coach was also working as the first base coach that game. He walked up to me as I recovered from my astonishment and said, “See what I told you? Don’t ever give up!”
I have remembered those words and that lesson. And I share them with you: don’t ever give up!
There is always the possibility of a great outcome.
Here are examples:
•The great American poet Carl Sandburg flunked English.
•Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb and other inventions, did not do well in school, either. His teachers thought he was dim-witted.
•Einstein could not speak until he was 4 and did not read until he was 7.
•Beethoven’s music teacher said, “As a composer he’s hopeless.”
•F. W. Woolworth couldn’t get a job. Merchants said he didn’t have enough sense to wait on customers.
•Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who said Disney didn’t have any good ideas.
•Enrico Caruso, an Italian opera singer, was told by a voice coach, “You can’t sing. You have no voice at all.”
What if all these people had believed their critics? They would have given up and we would not have the numerous inventions, music, writings and stores we enjoy today.
Don’t give up.
Every day is a new opportunity to begin fresh. Every day is a gift given to you by God to have a new beginning. Hang on to the hope and assurance of his love and grace because he will see you through.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.