FAMILY PICNIC: MAKING MOMENTS
How to handle the times you wish you could take back
The first baseball game was broadcast in 1921. One can imagine families sitting outside on a picnic blanket, enjoying sun and lemonade while gathered tightly around their radio listening intently to the announcer describe every play in detail.
Jeff Curtis once wrote, “One of life’s simple pleasures during the summer, especially for a sports fan, is the joy of listening to a baseball game on the radio …. Baseball is the perfect summer companion, the game has a rhythm that mirrors summer – the pace is gradual, sometimes slow, and often laid back.”
The golden age of baseball, from about 1920-1960, touted great baseball stars like Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. In 2021, a mint condition Mickey Mantle rookie card sold for $5.2 million.
Baseball history is marked by amazing moments. Game winning home runs, unbelievable catches,and unprecedented accomplishments were bestowed upon the sport the moniker, “America’s Pastime.” The players were remembered for the moments they gave us.
Yet, one could argue a single moment does not make a person who they are. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the good and bad moments from cycling through the mind on repeat.
We tend to view our lives as an average of high and low moments.
Sure, you experienced colossal mistakes but you also have had monumental achievements. Each one of us are a concoction of rights and wrongs mixed together to form the infrastructure of our lives.
If we truly believe a moment does not make or break us, how is it that we come to be so influenced by a single one of them? The answer is quite simple.
We choose to.
We choose to give moments more power than they deserve, no matter if they are excellent or atrocious. A prime example is Bill Buckner. In the 1986 World Series, the Boston Red Sox lead the series three games to two and stood on the verge of winning it all. In the tenth inning, the Red Sox were winning by one run with two outs. All they had to do was get one more out and they would become world champions. Then came an uncanny series of moments.
A wild pitch by Bob Stanley caused one run to score, tying the game. Then, on the tenth pitch of the tenth inning of game six of the 1986 World Series, Mookie Wilson hit a ground ball to the veteran player Bill Buckner. As he bent down to field the grounder and end the game, the unthinkable happened. He misplayed the ball and then watched with horror as it went between his legs and trickled into the outfield. Another runner scored and the Mets stole the win. Not only did they steal game six, but the Mets also went on to win game seven and the championship.
Bill Buckner isn’t known for his twenty-two-year career. He’s not known for being an All-Star player, or for his kindness, generosity, or relationship with Jesus, although all those things are true. He is known for a single moment in time when a ball rolled between his legs, and it cost his team a World Series win.
In this instance, the moment meant more than the person. Buckner was abused by the sports media and fans for years. He received death threats and some even worried that he would commit suicide.
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox finally won another World Series, and again in 2007. But something lingered over each win, a wrong that had to be made right, a moment in time where one man was treated unfairly. Finally, on April 8, 2008, the Red Sox invited Bill Buckner back to Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch. He received a standing ovation for over two minutes. All was forgiven.
Interestingly, no one talks about Bob Stanley, the pitcher who allowed a run on a wild pitch one batter prior. His moment was just as costly. So were the mistakes of the previous pitcher for allowing so many runners to get on base, yet the only person baseball fans think about when someone mentions the 1986 World Series is Bill Buckner and his infamous error.
The moment was an albatross for Buckner, and while many people would have preferred it to derail his life, he refused to let that happen. Even if he had caught the ball and made the out, it would never have been his biggest moment. It would just have been one of many moments in his life that he looked on fondly or regretfully.
We all have moments we wish we could take back.
What would you pay for a “do-over,” whether it be for a great failure, embarrassment or inaction? Knowing who you are now, would you let it happen again?
In his book, Failing Forward, John Maxwell says, “The essence of man is imperfection. Know that you’re going to make mistakes. The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from one who does. Wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success.”
Failure is a moment, not a person. You are not a failure; you simply have moments where you have failed. If you ask any high achieving person to list their failures, the list will be wrapped around the world. American author Napoleon Hill once said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
In this perspective, the moment is only a failure if you give it power to be such. If you choose to leverage the pain of that moment to propel you to greater things, the pain of that moment lessens, and the joy of the next achievement causes hindsight to be your friend and not your enemy.
We often allow bad moments in the past to rob us of great moments in the future. We don’t approach the summer with joy and expectation, looking forward to the picnics, the beach trips and large doses of Vitamin D. No, our bodies may be experiencing summertime, but our minds are stuck in the trapping snows of winter.
Moments have the power to bind us or free us.
The Apostle Paul knew the power of moments. He likely remembered his worst moments daily, yet he was also the man who said:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV).
“James echoes the statement when he adds, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).
It turns out the bad moments can actually become the best moments if you shift your perspective. When you shift your perspective, you steal the power of the moment, much like the Mets stole game six of the 1986 World Series. When this power shift occurs, you begin looking for moments instead of shying away from them. You build your life around winning moments, and you insist on taking valuable life lessons from losing moments. In the Kingdom of God, nothing is wasted.
- It’s not a trial, it’s an opportunity to develop steadfastness (James 1:2-4 ESV).
- It’s not a failure, it’s an opportunity for God to show how He can take anything and make it good (Romans 8:28 ESV).
- It’s not suffering, it’s the production of endurance, character and hope (Romans 5:3-5 ESV).
- It’s not temptation, it’s an opportunity to escape unscathed because God always makes a way (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV).
- It’s not a reason for fear, it’s preparation for a crown (Revelation 2:10 ESV.)
- It’s not discipline, it’s love (Revelation 3:19 ESV).
- It’s not an unending affliction; it’s never-ending comfort despite affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Here’s the great news. Moments don’t just happen to you.
You have the power to create your preferred moment.
- Do you want kindness? You can create a moment of supernatural selflessness.
- Do you want to be surrounded by generous people? Be unexpectedly kindhearted.
- Do you want love? Love those who may not deserve it.
You reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). Many of us want great moments to happen to us but we are unwilling to sow seeds for those moments. We don’t want to till the ground, but we want a healthy orchard, yet seed only produces fruit after its own kind.
When you choose to make moments – not just make the best of moments – you proactively shape the world around you. One of the greatest lines in the book of Acts is often overlooked. Paul preached over the course of three Sabbath days the resurrection and divinity of Jesus Christ. Things escalated quickly:
“But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd” (Acts 17:5 ESV).
If this occurred in the 21st century, the news stations would be all over it. There would be additional political debates as each side condemned the other. Jason would have been invited onto morning talk shows to share how he “felt” in that moment. Memes would be made, and the internet would simultaneously attack and condone the actions of the city. It was an angry mob and people would use it for power. But there’s more.
“And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:6 ESV).
What a great line! “The men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” You may think they were exaggerating, but what they are saying is as accurate an assessment as one could make. Paul waited around for someone else to do what needed to be done. He created a moment for Christ to be glorified. It wasn’t ideal, and Jason had to bribe the governing officials to be set free, but some of those who heard about it were forever changed.
Plenty of moments would “happen to” Paul. Shipwrecks, floggings and imprisonment were cast his way, but he never allowed the moment to have more power than it ought to. He immediately filtered his moments through the cause of Christ. He sang in the jail, thanked God to be called to suffer for His name and learned the secret of contentment; he could do anything because Christ was with him (Philippians 4:13 ESV).
It’s time to create the moments that will last a lifetime and steal the power of past moments as you filter them through Jesus’ redemptive work. Bill Buckner could have dwelt on that one bad moment like everyone else, but there were too many other great baseball moments he was not willing to surrender. He refused to give up, and he left a legacy far greater than a game. He left a family, a lineage of forgiveness and he retired with more hits than Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. He defined the importance of that moment for his life, and in his mind, it wasn’t worth much compared to the eternal.
Take some time this summer and reflect on your best and worst moments. Once you’ve submitted them to Jesus and gained a proper perspective (here’s a hint, it will involve the fruit of the Spirit), begin making new moments, Kingdom moments, eternal moments. You may not hear it on earth, but you’ll probably get a two-minute standing ovation in heaven.