The score is 8 to 6, favor of the white team. It is the bottom of the ninth; there is one man on third and one out. Blue player has just singled safely. Tension is high. What will happen? Is the blue player thinking of stealing second? Will the pitcher catch him on the way? Will blue get back to base before the throw is caught?
In the stands, the fans see the whole picture. The pitcher switching back and forth, hoping to catch the blue player off base, aiming a pitch to first base, and then to the plate. Meanwhile the blue player has taken a good lead off, hoping the pitcher will miss it. If not he will have to return to first base PRONTO!
This back and forth goes on several times, and finally blue speeds off to second while the ball is still in the pitcher’s hand. He dives to second base, and then the thud of the ball in the second baseman’s glove. SAFE! Whew!!! And the fans roar! This is the kind of excitement that brings fans back again and again.
Let’s take a look at that first base runner. He is always safe as long as his foot, hand or any part of him is on first base. But if he is to make headway in the game, he must get to second base, where he can be safe again. This can happen in several ways. The blue batter could get a hit, and that would advance our runner to second, at least. Or, the pitcher might throw four balls, walk the batter, and force the first base player to second. A third option is when a batter is hit by a pitcher’s ball. The batter advances to first and forces our blue runner to second.
The most exciting move to second would be if our blue runner could steal the base. That has the fans experiencing heart-stopping-tension for the 3 or 4 seconds it takes to accomplish this.
All of this is dependent on the willingness of our first base runner to take the risk. I do not know the statistics about how often a base stealer is caught and gains only an out for his team. I think more are caught than make the base. But make it or not, the runner has taken a great risk. That risk entails letting go of a safe place. More than that, he takes this risk before hundreds of people… thousands if you count TV coverage.
I have had to take risks, so have you. Mine were very small and my percentage of wins is about 50-50. My percentage of losses is also 50-50. That is not the problem. It is when we do not take the risk that we must examine our reasons. Frederick Wilcox wrote, “You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”
If a risk issue arises for you, look at it carefully. Why do you think you cannot take over the chair of the bake sales? Why can’t you give a little talk to the parish council? What is keeping you from reaching out to a neighbor?
Some wonderful things happen when your risk bears fruit. Oh, there will not be fans screaming, clapping, and jumping up and down. However, you will find your own heart dancing. And if it does not bear fruit? You will be like Edison who had over a thousand tries before the light bulb was a reality. More than that, Jesus had his share of wins and losses. He weeps over Jerusalem, remarking that all he wanted was to gather her under his wings. In the garden of Gethsemane he asked that the cup of suffering be taken away. He loves you and me, really loves us. We delight Jesus at times, and at other times He tries to gather us under his wings and we skitter away.
Stretch your horizon! Take a risk.