San Diego, CA / June 5, ’11
I sat in seat 4, section 127, row 28. I was in right field just beyond the yellow foul post in homerun territory. I had an uninhibited view, staring out into left field. Amid the crack of the bats and the cheering fans, my favorite thing about being in the ballpark was looking over that left field wall and seeing the Western Metal Supply Company.
Petco Park is located in downtown and is home to the San Diego Padres. I was fascinated by the design of the ballpark and my attention was diverted the entire game. The Western Metal Supply Company was something that did not seem to belong among these grandstands, a manicured baseball field, or underneath the bright lights, and yet somehow it did. Over that left field wall, this renovated brick building was persevered during the construction of Petco Park and stands as a historic landmark within a stadium, now converted into a restaurant, a memorabilia store, and a couple of luxury suites among other things.
The next day I spoke at The Rock Church and I talked about the foolishness of the world compared to the wisdom of God. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The apostle Paul was compelled to preach this message, yet not with human wisdom, because he did not want the cross of Christ to “be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
How many times have we heard people describing others as being in “left field” due to perhaps the way that they think or the manner in how they perceive the world around them? And what about us? How many times have we tried to function upon our own wisdom, ignoring those things in our lives that according to our own human standards do not belong? We don’t think about renovated brick buildings in stadiums divided among sections, rows, or seats. We don’t notice the “left field” of our existence per se because it does not blend into our preconceived notions in how things should and ought to be for us. While our focus is elsewhere, we could very well be missing out on the wisdom of God speaking in this regard. We keep stereotyping as foolishness those precise things He chooses to use by His creative design, adding to the context of His experience with us.
I have learned over the years through my own battles that God’s message certainly does not pertain to a health-wealth gospel. Sure, He wants to bless us, but He also does not work on our terms, in our wisdom, but instead calls us to trust, acting out faith through obedience. Life is not about us; it never has been, nor will it ever be. In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote to those who were “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy” (1 Corinthians 1:2). We have been more than renovated, Christian. We now stand transformed, new, a people to be used multi-purposely who will and “act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Paul writes that we have been enriched, that the testimony about Christ has been confirmed, and that we do not lack in our spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 1:5-7).
And yet so many times our “unwelcome” circumstances cause us to buy into lies that manufacture us into people we were never intended to be. It stops our movement and stifles our progression of change. Those inadequacies about us fester and we put on the façade we think is necessary to hide those blemishes. We fail to look beyond the barricades we construct about our lives when something just over that left field wall is standing in our midst, yet we disregard and consider it to be the “left field” of our existence – it is ugly; it is lonely; it doesn’t fit into the status quo; it becomes foolishness.
We don’t gaze into our “left field” often because we believe it does not belong when measured against a worldly perspective, yet it is the wisdom of God speaking in spite of us. He uses our idea of foolishness – ongoing battles, insecurities, and even unfortunate tragedy – to voice the message of the cross to those around us. Our circumstances may seem foolishness to us, yet it is the power of God at work so that we never have room to boast. It isn’t our wisdom. It is His. The irony? God is perfection and His wisdom is infinite, but He chooses imperfection to declare His praises. He uses you. He uses me. He takes our malfunctions to display His power. It is one of my favorite things about His beauty.
I do not consider myself a baseball fan. I do not follow it, I do not like watching it on television, but I will always enjoy being at a game. If I were to pick a team, I might be partial to the San Diego Padres because God simply spoke to me: I sure enjoyed staring out into left field. He reminded me of His power and the privilege I have to serve Him. What walls do you have to look beyond to start your movement of change?