Summary: Dealing with life’s issues.
Cast It Off
When I was growing up, there were times when my father and I would play catch. Sometimes He would throw the ball hard and if I caught it wrong it would really sting in my hand. Now when the ball was in my hand, I would try throwing it different ways. Sometimes I would try and put a spin on the ball or just try and throw it as hard as my dad was throwing to me. When my father had the ball, all I could do was wait and see how he would throw it before I knew what my response (and my ability to catch it) would be. I want you to keep this mental picture in mind as we walk through the message this morning.
I. Accepting The Burdens
When my father had the ball, he was in full control of the ball. Only he could decide how he would throw it. There was nothing I could do, beyond crying out and asking him to throw it softer, that would impact what he decided to do. This is similar to what happens with us when problems arise. All of us if we continue to live, will one day have a problem (a burden). It may come out of no where. You did not plan for it, you did not seek it (actually sometimes we do seek burdens but that is a sermon for another time) and sometimes you have no idea that it is even developing. All of a sudden, like my father throwing the ball to me, we see it coming, often very fast and aimed straight at us.
When my father would throw the ball to me, based on how hard he threw it, I had several choices that I had to make almost instantly. I could try and catch the ball right and it hit perfectly in the pocket of the glove; I could duck and miss the ball altogether possibly losing the ball or I could try and catch the ball regardless of if it hit the pocket or not. This is similar to how we “accept” our problems, or the problems of others. Lets look at each one.
• Catch the ball right. In the natural, if I catch the ball right it would hit directly into the pocket with no immediate pain to my hand. All is well right? Not really for now that I have the ball, I must do something with it. When problems arise, sometimes they may seem small and it appears that we have “caught it” just right so there is no pain. However, just like the ball, the problem is still there and you must do something with it. What do you do?
• Duck and miss the ball. If I chose to not even try and catch the ball by ducking out of the way, there would be no pain to my hand if I caught it wrong. However, there could be other repercussions if I lost my father’s ball because I refused to catch it. Either way, I would be dealing with something. When we are dealing with our problems, unlike with the ball, we cannot duck and see if the problem misses us. Most of our problems are targeted towards us like a heat-seeking missile. We cannot dodge them, hide from them or stick our heads in the sand thinking they will miss us altogether. When your problems do not miss you, what do you do?
• Catch the ball – hoping it is caught right. This is the situation where I found myself often. I did not want to disappoint my father by ducking from the ball so I would catch that ball even if I caught it wrong causing my hand to sting. I held out hope that it would fall neatly into the pocket of the glove, but there were many times when this did not happen. The same happens with the problems we face. We hope that when they arise that we are steadfast and ready to handle them, because they hit neatly in the pocket of the glove. But there are many times when this does not happen and the problems are not caught neatly and they do hurt. As with the ball, regardless of how well you caught it, now that you have it, what are you going to do with it?
As with that ball being thrown to me by my father, problems will continue to come our way. Whether you catch them neatly in your glove or you try and duck from them, the problems will come and they must be dealt with. The question remains, what do we do once we have the ball? When you are playing catch, if you keep the ball the game is over. The whole purpose of the game is to throw the ball back and forth between the individuals. In life, when we are dealing with problems, there are times when we do past them back and forth, but there always come a time when we must deal with them. This brings us to me in my analogy of playing catch with my father. My father has thrown the ball and now I am in possession of the ball. Remember, when my father had the ball he was in control. He could do with it as he pleased. That responsibility has now been shifted to me for I am in control of the ball. It was in my possession and I had to decide what to do.