The road to the Women’s College World Series begins each year in early spring with 291 teams. By the end of May, only eight teams remain. These eight teams have already persevered through and overcome team dynamics, travel schedules and a full college class load to earn the honor of representing their respective colleges at a national level.
We saw perseverance personified in Monday night’s championship matchup between the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators during the longest game in series history with both powerhouses competing in a 17-inning classic. Ultimately the Sooners earned a hard-fought 7-4 win over the Gators.
As a follower of and former college softball player myself, my teammates and friends can almost predict with certainty that the umpires will make crazy calls that haven’t been seen all year until it really counts. This year has been no exception.
Umpires have a heavy burden to bear as they make judgment calls that can affect outcomes of games. This year, we’ve seen coaches tossed from games, foul balls called fair, and catcher obstruction at home plate.
When you look at the emotion that can come out during competition, it is at times a direct reaction to the umpire. Take a second and think about the times in your life where umpires have made calls you didn’t agree with that have changed the course of your game. What was your reaction?
Did you yell, scream, or boo?
Did you blame the umpire for your loss?
Did you become more determined to win?
Were you able to persevere?
Persevere: to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.
Maybe it was all of the above. Often times, the best players in the game set themselves apart by how well they are able to persevere in the midst of trials caused by umpires.
In Romans 12, Paul writes to Roman believers in a practical way dealing with our position in Christ and how we can respond not out of duty but out of love for what Christ has done for us. Romans 12:12 deals specifically with perseverance. “Be JOYFUL in hope, be PATIENT in affliction, be FAITHFUL in prayer.”
When you focus on persevering in the areas of joy, patience and faith, you will be exercising the fruit of the spirit in your life.
Without temptation from outside influences like umpires, there is no opportunity for growth. Without growth, we as believers continue to be babies in our faith unable to grow.
So, as the bad calls come—and they will come—you can use it as an opportunity to exercise your spiritual muscles and work on persevering. Perseverance in sports is good for a time but learning to persevere in life with Christ at our side is how we will continue to grow in the fruit of the spirit and reflect the character of God in our lives.