I'm sort of a "high impact" kind of guy. To be honest, I'm rather intense. When we meet, you may love me or hate me; but you won't be bored.
Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit, but not a great deal. I struggle inside with all three elements of today's verse.
YOU MUST ALL BE QUICK TO LISTEN, SLOW TO SPEAK, AND SLOW TO GET ANGRY.
QUICK TO LISTEN
I have to work to truly listen. I find myself planning my responses rather than listening to the heart of someone's communication. I think I do that far more often than I would like. I know I do that far more often than God would like.
My Father wants me to be listening with focus so that I can respond with His heart, His word and His love.
I fail here, a lot! STRIKE ONE.
SLOW TO SPEAK
My personality style LOVES to talk. My personal problem is that I love to talk TO you much more than I love to talk WITH you. Meaning that I love situations where I am speaking much more than I care for heart to heart conversations. I'm not sure if it's because I have difficulty connecting with and identifying my emotions, or if it's because I prefer not to share them since I've been hurt so many times when I do.
My Father evidently gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason. He wants my words to be carefully considered. Measured.
Far too often, I fail here, as well. STRIKE TWO.
SLOW TO GET ANGRY
Ouch!!! This is probably my greatest area of personal weakness. My brain processes my inner assumptions (which are often inaccurate) and my internal anger is off to the races. Trying to apply lesson one and lesson two from today's has helped me to become less of an overbearing and gruff individual, but its been a process that has been a difficult one. I've been far less successful here than I'd like to be. By God's grace I'm not "exploding" on people like I used to do so frequently. But the inner battles still demand attention; constant attention. This isn't a command only about expressing anger on the outside. Like many of God's instructions, this deals with the heart.
This is a daily battle for me, and not one I always win. STRIKE THREE.
In baseball, three strikes mean YOU'RE OUT. Your turn at bat is over. Go sit down.
When you're OUT, the team is affected. There may be runners on the bases with game winning runs. But if there are already two other OUTs, when you get OUT they all get sent off the field. And then you're on defense and unable to score more runs until the next inning.
But thankfully, both in baseball and in life, OUT does not mean FINISHED. There will be another "at bat" coming. It may be in a few moments, or it may be tomorrow in a new game. So keep on applying this verse, keep on getting up to bat and giving today your very best effort.
Babe Ruth, the baseball legend who held the record for most home runs for many, many years, also held the record for the most strikeouts.
If you're going to play the game, you're not always going to hit home runs and single handedly score points for your team.
But giving your best effort each and every day is how life - and baseball - are played.