The Art of the Sacrifice
It’s one of the very first things I work on with the baseball teams I have coached through the years: bunting. But, it’s not bunting for the sake of just knowing how to bunt. There’s something far more important that must be understood when bunting: the sacrifice involved on the part of the one who is bunting the baseball.
It’s not impossible to be a selfish baseball player and still be a good player. However, it’s extraordinarily difficult to been seen as a good teammate if you only look out for yourself, especially in the batter’s box. I preach this week in and week out as a coach. A player who isn’t willing to sacrifice just won’t fit in well with the teams I assemble. Conversely, those who do will be praised publicly and celebrated when they make a concerted effort to put the team ahead of themselves.
So, back to bunting. When a player is asked to bunt, he has to accept that there’s the likelihood that he won’t be getting a base hit, and probably won’t be getting on base. The goal of the sacrifice bunt is to advance the runner(s) to put them in scoring position. Essentially, you are sacrificing an out to potentially score a run with the next batter. Some players I coach revel in the opportunity to move a runner by getting a bunt down. They see it as a challenge, and a great way to help their team. Others, however, will give you a pout, or shrug the shoulders, or give minimal effort when attempting the bunt. Still others will ignore the sign and swing away. This is not the way to get on your coaches’ good side!
Every sport has their version of role players. Some guys are the superstars, and others have one very specific job, and they likely get no fanfare. But, in my book, the players who embrace a limited role, or who want to help the team, ARE the superstars! We all celebrate sacrifice, but few people actually welcome it. And, when you see someone willing to do whatever it takes, it stands out!
Throughout scripture, we see evidence of sacrifice and the good that comes from it. In the end, a sacrifice costs something. You’re supposed to “feel” it. It’s supposed to hurt – sometimes a little, and sometimes excruciatingly so.
King David knew what this looked like. Later in his life, he had made some foolish choices. One was taking a census of the land and of the people (army) that he had built throughout his reign in Israel. This went against God’s wishes, but David was proud and did it anyway. When it came time for God’s punishment, a plague that killed more than 70,000 people, David pleaded with the Lord to not punish the nation, but to punish him. A prophet (Gad) came to David and told him he needed to build an altar on the threshing floor of Auranah the Jebusite. When Araunah realized what David needed to do, he offered to give David everything that was needed for the sacrifice. But, David wasn’t hearing any of it.
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. 2 Samuel 24:24 (NLT)
There are good sacrifices, and there are ones that don’t measure up (see Cain and Abel in Genesis). There are blood sacrifices, sacrifices of praise, financial sacrifices, sacrifices of time, effort, and sweat. And, when a sacrifice is made, it’s to make way for something greater!
That’s the premise behind bunting, and it’s the promise we are guaranteed when we put ourselves aside and accept God’s only son. We give up our way for something far better – eternal life with the One who offered the most incomprehensible sacrifice, in order to be with you forever!
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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