Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace. Mark 9:49-50
Preserving peace should be our goal as believers, but it’s hard for me. I compete every day, and I pitch with competitive anger. I’m not joking around out there. I don’t feel bad for the hitter. And then after the game is finished, I have to switch modes. It’s very hard to do. Sometimes I can’t, and then I have to rely on God’s grace to get me through. I said last time that God always give you an out. Here’s a story about the night I turned the other cheek.
A lot of companies use the player’s parking lot at Giants stadium, as visitors. One night after a game, I was going to my car with my wife and five year-old son, and pastor friends of ours and their three daughters. My son stopped to do something, and my wife maneuvered around him to help him and get him moving again. But she was pregnant, and wasn’t able to move as quickly as usual. So we got in the way of a guy who was also leaving. He didn’t work for the Giants, he worked for another company. He was carrying some things, and we knocked a couple of small things to the ground.
I didn’t know it was because of us that he’d dropped them, but I tried to help him pick them up. Well, he didn’t even look at me. He ripped his stuff out of my hand and shoved past my family. He didn’t say thank you. He didn’t even look at me. He just shoved past us, and I saw him mouth at my son, “Get out of the effin way.”
I stopped him. I said, “Excuse me. Did you just say that to my little boy?” He seemed defensive to me, and I said, “I think you did, because I watched it come out of your mouth.”
Now, we had just lost a really close ballgame to the Dodgers. I was still in that competitive mode. And then I saw him say that to my son. He only mouthed it, but I got really angry. I needed to protect my little boy! So I was definitely not preserving peace. I was in fight mode. I was going to chase after him. I was going to knock him out.
I turned to tell my wife to get in the car and wait for me. Instead what I saw was my son and those three little girls looking up at me. And when I saw that, I knew they came first. So I simply said, “Alright, let’s go guys. Let’s get in the car.”
Just for an instant, I wanted to do something to that man that was not going to preserve peace. It wasn’t going to help anything. It just would have just satisfied my desire to compete and win. But we were in a parking lot after a game against the Dodgers. Didn’t I just make a speech last year about leaving the competition on the field and stopping the violence? There were a lot of things going on in my mind just then. I’m still flesh, I still have issues, I still fail, and I don’t always do things correctly.
So God gave me a way out. He gave me the grace of those four pairs of eyes looking up at me, waiting to see what I was going to do. I think there are going to be times when I have to protect my family, but this wasn’t one of those times, and God gave me an out. He told me, “You can take that route, and there will probably be a bunch of people that will be okay with what you’re about to do. But there’s another way.”
I will always prefer to take the way that God gives me, rather than take the way that people will find acceptable. I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit. And I want my son to see that it’s possible to turn the other cheek. He does stuff in anger, because he’s a little five year-old kid. Now he’s seen that he can handle things without resorting to physical contact.
My adrenaline was still going in the car, and I decided to find the guy’s employers at the park the next day, so we could talk it out. That’s what I did, too. And I feel like that went a lot better than a fight would have. I settled it with no broken noses and no broken hands. I believe I preserved peace. That’s how we should do it.
A little more on this next time. See you Wednesday.