I play in a softball league on Monday nights along with Mike Hanafee and others that I know from the community. Our team name indicates what we really are, SCRUBS. We have a blast enjoying each others company and figuring out how to not go to the ER after or during the games.
For a couple games we have had an umpire I’ll call “Blue” (our umps wear blue pants and shirts). Blue seems to look around 65 with white hair and a white goatee. Blue looks like your typical grandfather.
UNTIL…… Until he started calling the game. He stunk! He stunk at umping and that may have been putting it nicely. He seemed to not even know the rules. After the first game, the other team came to us and asked if we would file a formal complaint with the league along with them so we could get him removed. Well, to my surprise our coach said, no, we would not file the complaint. I was pissed, this guy was terrible, he did not deserve to be umping and being paid good money to do it. We should have filed the complaint along with the other team, are you kidding me was my thought.
SECOND GAME….. Second game he umped for us was really no better. One example was, Mike had crossed home plate before the catcher tagged him and he was called out. Pretty obvious call, if you weren’t blind, was the thought that crossed my mind. But I figured we deserved what we got for not putting in the complaint, so we might as well roll with it. It was not just bad calls on our side, but both sides, so as far as that goes, it was a fair game. I’m thinking this guy should be calling games in the over 65 league.
BUT CONVICTION HAPPENS AFTER SECOND GAME….. After the game, I went by myself and sat in the stands watching the next teams play. To my surprise, Blue came and sat down right beside me! I thought “oh boy, not him”. But He started asking me all kinds of questions about our team; I very kindly answered them. It was then my turn. So yes, you guessed it, “so Blue how many years you been umping?” Blue turns to me and says “this is my first year, I’ve had 3 heart attacks and need to get in better condition, I’m 73 and need some exercise.”
Blue went on to give me his life history. He was a sales rep and eventually started his own business. He did very well and became a millionaire. As life happens though, his business became his all encompassing passion. His wife divorced him and his kids hated him. He was miserable and would not sleep till he was completely exhausted because he was afraid of dying. Life started turning really sour for him: no wife, no kids that love him, and he lost his business. He said he went from millionaire to so poor he has literally nothing to his name.
By this time I’m feeling really bad about this poor dude. He then brightens the story by telling me, even though he is poor, he has faith that Jesus has him on this earth to make a difference. He said he really did not know what the difference he was to make, but was still looking for it. We talked about God and His mercy and love for His children. I found out Blue goes to a local church in the Hillsboro area and loves God. I certainly would not have thought that 20 minutes before.
Talk about God crushing you, well he did me. Here I was not being loving in my mind toward this guy and, of course, I did not know him. Blue was not the ump who sucked at his job now, but now Blue was a guy who had a story and I knew him. Blue was just like me, made in the image of God. After we talked for about 20 minutes, Blue turned to me and said, “I am so thankful we talked tonight, you have been such an encouragement to me and you have helped me see that I need to stay faithful to God.”
I really did not want to talk to Blue when he sat down, but when he said he had to get home I found my heart wanting to continue our conversation. I was so glad our coach did not file a complaint with the league, I want him to ump our games now. Why?, all because God softened my heart for a guy who I should have seen as a soul created in the image of God instead of a worthless human that should be umping the geriatric league.
Blue should have been loved by me, without me needing to hear his story, but that was not the case. I’m just glad the Holy Spirit did not leave me where I was, but convicted me of my pride and arrogance.
“There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (TLB, Matthew 5:43-48)
SCRUBS…. In the pic are the SCRUBS. Currently we are on a 4 game winning streak. We are 5-3 when this blog post was written.
Clete getting ready to pitch
SCRUBS SOFTBALL TEAM