Plans change. Life gets disrupted. You are looking for a fast ball down the middle only to see a curve ball instead. It looks like a pitch you will easily be able to take out of the park because it is right in the strike zone, but before you know it, when you are already halfway through your swing, the bottom falls out and you are swinging at nothing but air.
Baseball is really no different than real life. We are at the game, wanting to play and succeed. We have practiced and rehearsed the plays. We have been in the batting cage perfecting our swing. But even then, despite all the preparation, something happens that we just did not expect or anticipate. We have to make adjustments, regroup our game plan, have a conference on the mound, move positions, change our grip, or even sometimes, sit on the bench for a while. My dad always said baseball is a mental game, and I believe it.
Lately, I have thought a lot about why God created Holt in such a way that he loved playing baseball. I mean, he liked all sports. When it came to basketball, he was the biggest “Cave Crazy” jumping Duke fan you would ever find in South Georgia. I swear he would have painted his hair and face royal blue if I would have let him. And football, the boy absolutely loved it. He knew every mascot for every college football team before he was ever out of elementary school. But if you narrowed down what sport he loved to play the most, it was, without a doubt, baseball.
Holt was made to be a first baseman. Not the fastest guy on the team by any means, but he was tall and broad shouldered. A big and wide target for players to hit when throwing to first base. He had long arms and long legs to give those extra needed inches when the ball was thrown too high or too wide. I never asked him, but I think one thing Holt liked best about playing first base was that every single player who got on base had to pass by him on first. Knowing how much he loved people and he loved to talk to everyone, the opportunity to chat with every player on the opposing team at every game was a dream come true to a people person like Holt. He knew everybody and everybody knew Holt. He did not just talk to the players, even the umpires became victims of his conversation. If you were in ears length to him and would talk back, you were going to talk to him.
I have often wondered if God specifically designed Holt’s body that way so he would play baseball and get to meet so many people in order to lay the groundwork for a greater purpose. I mean, He certainly could have used other hobbies or interests other than baseball or even sports. I do not presume to have the answers or even understand the reasoning of God, but since the beginning of The Holt Rowland Foundation, baseball has been connected to it. It was through an FCA baseball mission trip that Holt first went to the Dominican Republic. Baseball was the platform to share the gospel because in the Dominican literally millions of boys and young men put their hope for the future and a better life in playing baseball for a living. They long to become a professional baseball player like the famous Dominican player, David Ortiz. Their hope is solely based on their own abilities and talent. Sadly, with only 11% of today’s MLB professional players coming from the Dominican, that means there are millions of boys that will not make it. Many of these will be feeling let down that they are not talented enough to make the cut. A life spent practicing, playing, and preparing is suddenly abruptly disrupted and disappointed with little to fall back on in a poor economy.
In the Dominican baseball is a god to some. It is enjoyed but at the same time worshipped. In the United States we are no different. We have many gods that are worshipped too. It is not just baseball for us, it is sports in general. A plethora of things that we put our hope for the future in. And when those things are disrupted or taken away, we feel disappointed and it is difficult to regroup.
Although Holt’s House originated from a baseball trip, it is through this ministry that we want to teach a generation of boys and girls that there is hope that is real. It is not in a thing or a hobby or our own talents, but in the One that created us. Through this ministry boys and girls are taught about a good Father that loves each and every one of us unconditionally, and He created each one of us for a specific purpose in a greater plan. We want boys and girls to understand how they can feel hopeful even when life’s circumstances are disrupted and disappointing. A hope that is lasting and not based on how they perform. We all need that kind of hope, especially in our world today.
We all strike out and even feel like, at times, we have been hit by a pitch. It can be scary to get back in the box and try again. There are times we want to stop playing all together and just hang up our glove. I get it. I have been there. Some days I am still there. But one thing I know, I am better off with real hope in my life than I am without it. I may not understand now why life is the way it is or why some circumstances happen the way they do, but it is never because God is trying to hurt me. He may sit me out an inning or two to help me get focused, but he is never benching me or telling me I am not good enough to play. He is always encouraging me to hang in there and get back in the game. He is on my side even when the score is not.
Through the purpose God had in making a young boy’s body tall and wide and giving him a love for a game with a ball and a stick, the groundwork for a ministry was laid. It was not Holt’s baseball abilities that God used the most, it was a heart that loved Jesus and people. A life based on hope in something much bigger than baseball or things. Now, because a boy who loved Jesus and baseball went on a trip to a country where some love baseball more than Jesus, a ministry was born. And even more amazing than that is that now other people have the opportunity to be part of it also. Helping boys. Helping girls. All God’s children. All one family with many brothers and sisters. All with special talents and abilities. All with a special purpose in God’s greater plan. All needing to know about a hope that is real. All, just like us, wanting to feel loved.
We cannot do everything, but each one of us can do something. If you are interested in ways you can help provide hope to the boys and girls through Holt’s House, we have a sponsorship program now available through the Holt’s House website. It is an opportunity to do something and help meet the needs for God’s children. An opportunity to take another swing and join our team. Together, despite any circumstance, we can leave a mark for good in our world. Together, we can share Jesus and make a difference for the better in people’s lives.