How long has it been since you took in a minor league baseball game? If God doesn’t knock out this virus soon, we may not have a baseball season. I’m hoping my neighborhood Little League will figure something out.
Minor League games are a lot looser than big league games. Between innings, there is usually some silly contest where two or three fans participate to win a pizza or a couple of tacos.
One of my “between inning” favorites is the Dizzy Bat Race. Fully oriented to their surroundings, two contestants look at the ground while spinning around a baseball bat (see picture above). They spin around ten times, drop the bat, and sprint for home. Typically, they’re so disoriented that they run more in the direction of first base. Finally, they reorient themselves and one will dive for the plate just before the other. The fans howl. All that humiliation for a free 10-inch from Double Dave’s.
In studying the psalms, I've found a book by renowned scholar Walter Brueggemann helpful. It's called The Spirituality of the Psalms and in it, he categorizes the psalms three ways.
First, there are psalms of orientation. Psalm 23 is a psalm of orientation. David’s relationship with God is right where it should be. He can be still and contemplate the deeper things of God with great insight. He knows God, he knows himself, and he is perfectly comfortable and happy in his relationship with God. "The Lord is my shepherd; I am in need of nothing else."
But we all know that good times don’t last. Suffering and trials come. Certainly, this is true for David. In these times of suffering and challenge, David becomes disoriented in his relationship with God.
In Psalm 13, a psalm of disorientation, David laments, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.”
That doesn’t sound anything like Psalm 23, does it? David longs to return to that time of orientation. Disorientation is unpleasant. And often it feels as if the disorientation will never end.
But in God’s time, the trials and suffering end. Often we look back and say that the time of disorientation, although painful, made us better people—better Christians. God led us through the trial to a place of reorientation. Look at the words of Psalm 73:21-25, a psalm of new orientation, from the Easy-To-Read Version,
“I was so stupid. I thought about such people and became upset. God, I was upset and angry with You! I acted like a senseless animal. But I am always with You. You hold my hand. You lead me and give me good advice, and later You will lead me to glory. In heaven, God, I have only You. And if I am with You, what on earth could I want?”
What joy the psalmist has in his heart as he escapes the fog and sees God clearly. He is filled with praise and gratitude! God came through for me again! He made a way! When it seemed that things were at their worst, God’s grace burst onto the scene in brilliant light! “I once was lost, but now I’m found—was blind, but now I see!” Reorientation is great!
Coronavirus has put us in a place of disorientation, hasn’t it? Nothing seems right… normal… routine. Normality has been replaced by uncertainty and worry. If you’re like me, the 15-day curve-flattening quarantine from the Trumpster feels like it’s been 15 months, and we're only on Day 11. You folks with kids at home must be pulling your hair out. Our 8-year-old grandson Elliott Facetimes us every day. Of course, we love it! But I'm pretty sure his mom puts him up to it just to get him out of her hair. "Go call your grandma!"
Every day I confirm with Deborah the day of the week. “This is Thursday, isn't it?” The days run together and all feel the same. Disorientation.
But we trust that God will lead us through this. We are confident that reorientation is coming. Our society (and our churches) may just look back and say that they learned some good things from this ordeal—that people are more important than things; that being unified is better than being divided; that being with my church family is a lot better than watching Facebook church.
May God lead us through our disorientation and bring us together in a new orientation so that our relationships with one another and with our Lord Jesus Christ will flourish!