I have always enjoyed sports – as a participant or a spectator. This last Friday was no different. I was having a good time watching my son’s baseball practice, talking with the other parents as the boys went through their different drills. Over the course of a couple of hours, the coaches helped and encouraged the boys as they practiced many skills and went over a variety of very specific game-like situations.
Several of us parents were very encouraged that the coaches were really instructing the boys and helping them improve in their execution of the fundamentals of the game and also increasing their understanding of some of baseball’s intricacies. The boys on the other hand weren’t as impressed – they were participating but they didn’t really seem to be enjoying themselves.
Toward the end of practice, the head coach had the boys play Pickle. This is a game of running, throwing, and catching – the most basic parts of the game. There was very little instruction – it was at this point that we could see their enthusiasm return and they were just boys playing a game they really enjoyed.
When we find something we enjoy, something that we’re good at, there is a natural tendency to want to improve. We focus on strengthening areas of weakness. We find teachers or coaches to help and encourage us. We practice on specific skills to increase our mastery. Sometimes in this process we lose or forget our initial passion for the endeavor.
Today’s reading encourages us to avoid this tendency in our spiritual life. 1 Peter 2:2-3 tells us, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good”. The pure spiritual milk is Jesus – the Word of God. We can’t let our spiritual disciplines, our spiritual practices; dull our passion for the Lord.
Just as the game of pickle helped my son’s team remember why they love baseball, we need to keep our spiritual passion flowing. What is your spiritual pickle?