To this day, my boys still complain about some calls I made when I umpired baseball. As a matter of fact, I still have some of their written remarks. For example, Keithen wrote in response to an article I wrote about the rigors of officiating about a time when I called him out on strikes on a pitch he claimed “bounced in front of the plate.” Keithen has never let me forget what he viewed on the pitch from his angle as a batter. In the note, he belly-ached that I “struck him out on pitches three times that day.”
Ron even got involved in the e-mail exchange. He wrote, “As a matter of fact, Dad, I remember a game on Field #4 in Belmont when you were starting to officiate games as an umpire. During one game, you called Keithen out on a close play at second, and apparently you were wrong! At least that was Mom’s opinion. While I am not sure what she had to say to you later on, she certainly was not kind in opining on the call during the game.”
(Yeah, I remember that. She fussed hard and incessantly at me from 150 feet away, while I was three feet from the play. Finally, I said, “Mrs. Branch, you will be asked to leave the field if you IF YOU DO NOT HUSH!” Her gesture, though not obscene, was not respectful.)
After Ron forwarded his note to his brother, Keithen forwarded to me the note he wrote to Ron, “Thanks, Brother, for reminding me about this. As I slid safely into second base, the infielder caught the ball, and tagged me on the head while my foot touched second base. IT WAS NOT EVEN CLOSE! Mom’s exact words she hollered from the stands were, ‘You do not have to call him out just because he is your son—-get some glasses!’”
Then, Jeshua got in on the exchanges with a bit of a different response. He wrote, “Keithen apparently is more willing to hold a grudge instead of learning a valuable lesson in life. He should be glad to have learned at an early age that times are in life when you have two strikes that you should aggressively protect your plate!”….which holds a measure of philosophical truth.
As far as I am concerned, these written wranglings among the Branches are priceless. I would not throw them away for anything. Even the writer of Hebrews gets in on this type of thinking when he wrote, “Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which has great recompense of reward.”
And, what he emphasized to us is that we should be careful to not throw away our confidence in Jesus Christ, because consistent confidence in Him is so spiritually advantageous. We can have confidence in Him to never leave us or forsake us. We can have confidence in Him to give us peace and comfort. We can have confidence in Him that He will bless us.
Point specifically, we can have confidence in Him to keep our souls saved and safe when we make profession of faith in Him. Apostle Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I committed unto Him against that day.”
Some associated with the Church, however, experience moments when they are willing to trash that confidence. They throw away their confidence in Christ when things in life get rough. They throw it away when things do not work out as they think they should. They throw it away whenever they perceive “greener pastures” somewhere. They throw it away whenever their egos develop delusions of personal grandeur. They throw it away whenever they lose spiritual zeal and enthusiasm.
We should always be careful to maintain confidence in Christ at all times, for it is certainly one thing you do not want to throw away.
In the mean time, that boy was out, regardless what that certain “umpire” sitting in the stands saw and said!
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.