Friday, April 13, 2007

Highest Convictions!

As a young 9 year old girl, I attended a two-room country school.
While my forte was books and arithmetic, Miss Cooper loved organized team sports and doing well athletically was as important to her as book learning.
The weather permitting, she would often take us outside , divide us into two teams and referee a baseball game.
How I dreaded those times.
I was always one of the last to be chosen for a team, understandably so, because I was not a team asset ! I was not competitive and worst of all - I was afraid of the ball.

I remember one particular summer day we went outside to the baseball diamond and after enduring the humiliating groans of the team I was assigned to, I was told by Miss Cooper to play shortstop. My heart sank. I hated that position because it made me stand too close to where the ball was most often in play, but I obediently stood on my designated spot hoping against hope that I could avoid the ball , and that I would not be responsible for my team losing.

All went well, until Barry , who was the best batter of all, came up to the plate.
The pitch was thrown and I heard the loud resounding crack of the bat solidly connecting with the ball.
To my horror the ball was hurtling in my direction, straight toward me.
Time stood still!
My world fled away, leaving me all alone , standing on the brink of decision between life and death.
From afar off , I heard Miss Cooper scream my name to catch the ball. I was aware the batter had already determined he had hit a home run and was running for first base. I was vaguely conscious of voices shouting.
My heart was pounding with fear and adrenalin was surging through my body – I knew if I ducked out of the way I would face the critical words of Miss Cooper – and her disappointment in me. But I also knew it was impossible to catch the ball - it would hit me and I knew – kill me.
I could not move … The feared pain was certain –
the ball was still coming. There was no escape.
Then from somewhere inside me rose a conviction formulating a decision – ‘hold out your hands – if you die, you die, but at least you will have tried.”
So I held out my bare hands – I had no glove – and with my hands cupped I waited for the inevitable ……..
Then, suddenly! as quickly as my world had stopped, it righted itself.

Time began again.

I was still alive.
And wonder of wonders, to my amazed disbelief – the ball was firmly grasped in my two hands. My hands stung but I hardly noticed – my teacher and all my classmates erupted into the loudest cheering and screaming I had ever heard.
It was my moment !! I was the unexpected hero of the day, and I won the stunned admiration of Miss Cooper. “How in the world did you catch that?”

The memory is crystal clear in my mind – a childhood memory from a child’s perspective, but I think it illustrates a principle that is worth noting.

When we find ourselves in a position where we have to make a decision or a choice – especially in a pressure moment- our choice of action will reveal who we are and what the motivating truths are that drive us.
Disappointing my teacher was something I wanted to avoid at any cost – even if it meant putting my life on the line!!
I am still a people pleaser and it is still a motivation that is very strong in influencing my choices.
I used to have a favorite wall hanging with the words, “To your own highest convictions be true.” I thought the words were a lofty ideal I aspired to – I did not realize that being true to our highest convictions is what we do naturally when choices present themselves in our life.

I thought about bible characters that had to make choices and thought about why and how they choose the way they did.

I thought about Eve – Adam had told her what God had said, but the fruit was beautiful and the serpent convincing – Eve, having never suffered consequences, had never told a lie, did not know the serpent was deceitful, choose according to what was uppermost in her mind – what would satisfy her curiosity and desire.
I thought about Solomon who when asked by God to make a wish….did not ask for riches but asked for wisdom.
I thought about Abraham when he was told to sacrifice his only son, the promised son of his old age – he choose to obey God because His highest conviction was that he could trust God’s word more than he could trust his own judgment.
I thought about Ruth and Orpah - Ruth lay in the balance her love for her mother-in-law and the faith she had found in her God, against going back to her former life. She was willing to choose the unknown rather than go back. Her sister, Orpah’s highest conviction was holding on to what was familiar and secure, she choose to go back.
I thought about Saul when he was waiting for Samuel to come and officiate at the sacrifice – Saul knew only Samuel, as the high priest, was allowed to carry out the ritual according to God’s commands, but he was tired of waiting and he was after all the King – did that not give him authority ? So Saul chose to follow his own ideals and over rule God’s directive
– to his own hurt.
When everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the life of Job, and his wife told him to curse God and die - Job clung to his highest conviction, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him!”

Observing the choices people make tells us more of what they are made of, of what rules their hearts than anything else because their choices are visual evidence of their convictions.

What is your highest conviction that determines the choices you make?

We could ask the big questions, like, “If faced with the decision to deny your faith or be persecuted or killed which would you choose?”
But we could also ask….
“If the moment demands a reaction… do you choose an angry biting retort , or a gentle soft answer?”
“If a situation presents itself for you to choose a self-serving option or a self-less one , which is your inclination?”
“How important is it to you that your life choices, or daily choices be pleasing before God?”

Questions to ponder…………………..

“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things…" (Matt. 12:35)

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…..
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…….
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus….”
(from Col. 3:15,16,17)


Carolanne said...

I'm glad you caught the ball! Placed in a similar situation, most would run away from their fears. Standing still, hands out ready to catch it despite the fear and unknown takes a lot of courage and sometimes we know the right choice to make but it's easier to step away. How sweet the victory is when we stand and adhere to our convictions.

Thanks for this post, Julie. The questions to ponder are well worth pondering. :)

Demara said...

Yup...Julie I too am glad you caught the ball!!!

I enjoy our friendship very much and am glad we met.

Yes my moto IS garbage in garbage out!