I could hear my heart beating in my ears. The oxygen in my lungs felt like concrete, dragging me down. I could barely breathe. Everything was riding on this, and I had only one shot. But I missed. Again. In the sun and sweat of the playground, it felt like the 40th time I’d whiffed at kickball (reality check—maybe it was really only the second or third time). But thanks to Jake, I’d have at least one more do-over.
If kickball is king on the elementary playground, then I was the court jester. No matter how many “at-bats” I got, it was a swing and a miss. But every time I’d whiff, Jake (my best friend) would lobby on my behalf for a do-over. Soon, both teams were exasperated at how LOOONG it was taking to play the game, and demanded a tighter limit on my “whiff” count. Jake would simply say “he gets as many as it takes for him to get the winning kick” (thank God THAT didn’t happen—we’d still be on the playground!). In fact, “winning kick” was a bar I couldn’t clear—I just wanted to connect with the ball…
Likewise, Jesus is standing on the sidelines of our back-to-school kickball game offering all of us as many do-overs as it takes to “get the winning kick.”
1. For a teenager, maybe that’s re-launching your reputation. Maybe your kickball story is a Damascus Road experience. Maybe you encountered Jesus in a way you never had before over the summer, and now everything is new. But no one knows that yet. And maybe you’ll make some mistakes as you step into the new life Jesus has given you—all you need to know is that Jesus is offering another at-bat.
2. For a volunteer, it could be a commitment issue. You were involved last year, but as the year drew to a close you showed up less and less. Your do-over might be a needed reminder of the mission and vision you’ve already invested yourself in—you need a spark to rekindle your determination.
3. For you, maybe your church responsibilities have been just plain hard this past year. You don’t always love who you’re working with, and the restrictions you operate under. The tension at church sometimes leaks out at home. So, swing your leg at that ball as many times as it takes to get the winning shot. Pursue greater intimacy with Jesus, the “engine” for everything we do in ministry, by scheduled personal retreat days (or hours). Confess your shortcomings. Breathe deeply of the Lord—oxygen that is life-giving and light—and take the next kick.
Jesus is the maestro of do-overs. And there’s no better time to take one than when everyone is heading back to school. He’s on the kickball field with you, pleading for just one more kick. So step up to the plate! The game’s not over.