God, Hope & Helping Others
"Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth." (Psalm 26:1-3)
Two outs, bottom of the ninth, behind by one run, Ryan's right foot was pressed to the front edge of the third base bag. Every muscle in his eleven-year-old body was flexed, ready to bolt home with the tying run.
Kenny, the winning run, stood grinning on second, Dylan, the team's best hitter was at the plate.
The first pitch was high and outside, "Ball One!" The next caught the inside corner, "Steeeriiick!" Two more balls and a foul tip later the count is full. Ryan's eyes are glued to the ball while his ear is tuned to the third base coach listening for just one word. Dylan drove the next pitch to the right of the pitcher, well out of reach, and the coach screamed the one word, "GO!" Ryan digs for home.
Now at this level of play, a hit like that is usually good for extra bases, but today the third baseman made a play worthy of the Major Leagues. A diving stab knocked the ball down. Quick as a cat, he scooped it up, spun, and made the peg home to stop the tying run from scoring; it was going to be close.
A perfect peg, a perfect slide, a perfect catch, a perfect sweeping tag and a big cloud of dust converge around the plate at the umpire's feet.
The umpire hesitated for a second; he couldn't see the tag clearly for dust and the position of the catcher. He glanced at the field referee who gestured that he wasn't sure either.
As he was starting to spread his arms wide, palms down, Ryan looked into the umpire's face. "Sir, I missed the plate, he tagged me out."
"Son, do you know what it means if I call you out? The game is over and you lose"
"Yes sir, I know. But that's the truth." Ryan whispered.
The umpire turned his head slightly, "Why would you give it up like that?"
"You see Sir, this catcher knows I became a Christian last week. I can't trade a baseball game today for what he will think about me tomorrow."