Give me a word, Lord: DON’T WIDEN THE PLATE

Colossians 3:1-4 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

When I think of the statement, “don’t widen the plate,” the first thing that comes to my mind as a nurse practitioner is a diet. I spend a good bit of my day teaching portion control and proper eating habits. but today, I’m talking about a different plate. I’m talking about home plate on a baseball field. In case you are like myself and are not really a big sports fan, let me explain the basics. A home plate in baseball is 17 inches wide. It doesn’t matter if it is school ball, minor league, or major league, the plate size is supposed to be 17 inches. That basic fact is important for today’s ramblings.

As I said, I’m not really a big sports enthusiast. God didn’t bless me with athletic abilities or skills. He gave me some other great skills which I am very thankful for. He gave me the skill to be a nurse practitioner, farmer, wife, mother, grandmother, and writer. He even gave me the skill to fall gracefully and not so gracefully from which I’ve earned the title “Queen of Klutz.” No, I’m no athlete, but even I have heard of Coach John Scolinos. He retired from coaching in 1991 after beginning his coaching career in 1948. In 1996, he made an speech that impacted many coaches in the field of baseball using a simple home plate. He began his speech with a room full of 4,000 baseball coaches at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN, with a 17 inch home plate hanging from his neck like an oversized necklace. The visiting coaches were likely on the edge of their seats awaiting great knowledge and baseball secrets to roll off of the tongue of this wise and renowned coach. They got way more than they bargained for.

After speaking for several minutes, Coach Scolinos finally got around to the home plate that was hanging from his neck like an elephant in the room. He asked the crowd how wide home plate was, and they answered 17 inches. He even asked about the size of home plate for different leagues and age groups. the answer was always 17 inches. He then, after a long pause, asked what do they do if a big league pitcher can’t hit home plate? Should the plate be widened to 18 inches, 19 inches, or perhaps 25 inches? If it is enlarged, maybe they would have a better chance of hitting it. The coach then turned the plate towards himself and used a Sharpie to draw a house on the plate. He then said, “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids, with our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!” He went on to speak of America, our schools, our churches, and our government. We are constantly individually and corporately widening the plate.

I don’t know baseball, y’all, but even I understood that, and I understood it to be completely true. He spoke those words in 1996. Coach Scolinos died in 2009, but wow, what a mark he left on this country. There is so much wisdom in these words, but now, 24 years later, we are still widening the plate. We wonder why society is failing? We wonder why everything is not as it should be? Well, we keep widening the plate. The game of baseball has instructions and guidelines. The players, coaches, and umpires know the rules of the game, and they know the standards which they must uphold. They don’t changed the rules to suit the player or the game. We have an instruction manual for life. God gave us His Holy Word, the Bible. Unfortunately, we don’t follow our manual the way that the baseball players follow theirs. We tend to pick and choose the parts that we want to follow. If there is something we don’t like, we simply ignore that part. When we get angry, we pick out a piece of scripture that goes along with our current rage, and shout that part to the world, but we leave out the context in which the scripture came from. We quote scripture on good days, and then shout obscenities on other days. We look and see what is good for society and assume it is good for ourselves, even though we know that the Word of God contradicts this. We try to add to the Word or take away the stuff we don’t like. We can’t keep widening the plate! “And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” Revelations 22:19

If we want our country back, our homes back, our families back to the way things should be, we have to stop widening the plate! We must join together and read the instruction manual for life every day. Learn the standards that Christ has given us. I’ve always been a rule follower, and following Christ is something that I want to do with every ounce of my being. I’ve heard it said that the Bible is just an old book of rules or that it’s too hard to follow the standards of the Bible. I’m here to tell you that it is not! When you give your heart completely to Christ, serving Him becomes a joy, and learning the standards for living a godly life becomes a yearning. It’s not hard work. It’s pleasing to the mind and soul. Today’s challenge is to get back to the basics! Let’s get back to God’s Word and remember His ways because His ways truly should be our ways! Don’t widen the plate!

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