Echoes From the Campfire

Never cease to fight!  You must fight to live—an’ so make that fight equally for your mind an’ your soul!  Remember—the secret is never to forget your hold on the past—your memories—an’ through thinkin’ of them to save your mind an’ apply it to all that faces you out there.”
                  –Zane Grey  (Wanderer of the Wasteland)

       “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.”
                  –2 Corinthians 7:4 (NKJV)
People who knew me when I was younger knew that I played a little baseball.  No, I played a lot of baseball.  It wasn’t until I was eleven years old that the passion in me grew.  From that time until I was in my twenties most of my focus went to playing ball.  After practice, where I often stayed late for the coach to hit more ground balls to me, I would go to my house where we had a rock foundation.  I would throw almost any kind of ball I could find against those rocks (I preferred a handball, but a tennis ball would suffice).  Over the years I encountered many players better than me, but only a few were as intense as I was.  My playing style would be similar to that of Pete Rose.
    That intensity toward the sport continued on into college where I played four years.  Too bad that I didn’t have the same intensity toward my school work in high school and college.  After graduation I continued to play ball, but since I was in the Air Force it turned to fast pitch softball, and alternative to baseball.  Back in my day there was softball and there was hardball.  I preferred hardball (baseball) but I would accept the substitute.
    Things began to change, and I can point to the spot.  I was working on one of the fields at the Air Force Academy where I was stationed.  There was a voice, it sounded audible to me, and I looked around.  There was no one, but the “voice” asked a question of me:  “Who are you working for?  The Air Force, your sergeant, or Me?”  My life turned around as I read the Scriptures from Colossians.

         “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him…  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”
                   –Colossians 3:17,23 (NKJV)

From that point my intensity turned.  It turned to all aspects of my life.  No longer did I strive only for baseball, in fact, it was several years that I was able to pick up a ball again and play.
    Over the years students and administrators have mentioned how intense I was in my classroom.  My focus was on the lesson and the students.  When I went to grad school, I was intense and I graduated with a 4.00; quite a jump from a 2.60 in undergrad.  One time during a lull in practice I had a player ask, “What is the fun in being so intense?”  I stared at them, and said, “That is the fun!”  I was intense, whether as a player, a coach, a teacher in the classroom, or a teacher in Sunday school.
    What I finally saw beginning to happen was that I could only give the idea of being intense over to a few.  Times/students have changed.  My final few years of coaching what I began to see was a glorified intramural team.  They wanted to play, to win, but without the effort of practice; the same was true in the classroom.  I wanted to win for them to succeed more than they did.
    Life–it should be intense.  It is not a time of continual pleasure and entertainment.  There is practice, study, failure, pulling yourself back up and continuing on.  The intensity should be the same in our lives as a Christian.  We do not tip-toe through the tulips of life, but we walk through a garden of thorns and need to be wary.
    Maybe you can feel it, but I am very intense as I write this.  I try to watch the World Series, but I get too intense.  My poor old heart begins to pump, I watch, but can do nothing about it.  Poor old me.
    Have a passion for life, not for fun.  Live for the Lord Jesus Christ!  Be intense for Him!  Read through the Book of Acts, and the writings of Paul and you will clearly see those who were intense for the Lord.