Baseball was a game I enjoyed playing as a child, although I wasn’t great at the game. I suppose I was average, but was never a superstar by any stretch of the imagination. I usually ended up playing in the outfield and occasionally even had a fly ball land in my glove—purely by accident. I don’t ever remember running and catching a ball; the ball would simply find my glove. As far as batting went, it was a success for me if I managed not to strike out. If I happened to be walked by the pitcher it was really deemed a success because I had the rare opportunity to run the bases.
Baseball has a strict set of rules. There are a minimum number of required innings to play. There are rules for batters and fielders and there are umpires present to insure everyone and every team complies with the rules. Whenever I batted, it didn’t matter how much I might argue, I was never given a 4th strike. I was only allowed three; three strikes before I was called “out” and sent back to the dugout in humiliation. It didn’t matter what I did to get more strikes, my efforts were futile. I could practice harder. I could be more of a team player. I could help my teammates more. I could be more polite to the umpires and coaches. None of that mattered. I was still only allowed three strikes.
I am so glad God does not and has not viewed me that way. How many times have I failed Him? How many “strikes” would I have if God were keeping score? What would happen if I only had 3 chances to “get it right” or God would never accept me? God’s word says that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve tried and failed, or what you’ve done in the past, He still awaits you with open arms. I remember vividly how disappointed my coaches were in me when I struck out and failed to deliver. The good news is that God is never disappointed in us no matter what we’ve done and no matter how distant we’ve been from God. He awaits you with open arms.
With God, your 3 strikes only mean you have another opportunity. Your 4 strikes or 10 strikes only mean that God is still waiting for you. He will never be a disappointed coach in the dugout. He will be on the field encouraging you to come home.