The best part of baseball is the concession stand. Hands-down. At least that’s what my boys think. They’re looking ahead to spring ball, practicing in the backyard, biting their nails about which terrifying pitchers they’ll face in the next level up. New coaches, new uniforms, new cleats, old friends, night games, playgrounds, home runs, and you know what they all said was the best part of baseball? Snack Shack. “Because it’s sugary,” said our 5 year-old.
And do you know how often we let them partake of the coveted Gatorade? The graying hotdogs and gummy snacks? The gastrointestinal twistage? Once or twice per season. That’s it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re at a Little League game or scrunched down into a milk crate seat, blistering in the sun at Fenway. If you let them eat the forbidden fruit once, they get attached to the idea of it. This is baseball. This is great! It must be okay, because Mom and Dad said YES! If we let them eat from the concession stand twice, it’s set in stone. This is life. And these are my rights.
I laugh (or groan) at my children’s obsessions and desires. But I find myself drawn to a darker kind of concession.
I know it’s not good for me, but one time is special. Just once. This is great! It must be okay, because She said YES!
A second time? See? I knew it was fine! Nothing bad happened the first time. A slight softening of the will, like a candy bar on a hot bleacher.
I give in frequently, though it’s a dangerous treat. This is my life. My rights. Every time I give in, I strengthen the pathway in my brain that allows desire and satisfaction to flow back and forth.
Softening leads to melting leads to mess leads to “How did I get here?”
Yet just one steaming pile of salty fries goes bobbing by, and I’m done for. I must have some. Or is it cake? Or Facebook? Or something unmentionable? Although, as Mr. Rogers said, “Anything human is mentionable.”
But I can’t give it up. I like it too much!
But I can’t tell anyone. It’s too embarrassing.
God knows. He doesn’t blush at our vices, our sin, or the concessions which lead us into it. He painted himself red til not a drop of blood was left in his body. Sin grieves Him because He loves us and wants us to be free. Does it matter if it’s a serious sin pattern, an addiction, or a simple habit we want to kick, a focus we want to shift?
“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Free is free, in every way! Isn’t the Lord just waiting, hovering above the waters of our hearts, longing to speak the word that creates new life where we are still living dead to Him?
God knows the millisecond we begin to turn from Him, to replace Him with something lesser. So He gives us truth as a weapon, a firm place to make our stand against concessions.
Psalm 16:5-8 –
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup.” Lord, you are my hotdogs and Gatorade. You are my sugar. You are my energy. You are my _____________.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…” Lord, I accept that your will for me is best. Help me be content.
Satan loves concessions. Those tiny thoughts, flitting across our minds like innocent summer butterflies. They seem too silly, too small to bother with. They are deadly arrows, tipped with poison.
The enemy does NOT love concession stands, not God’s kind. The Christ-follower, discovering the powerful Armor of God, puts on each piece and stands his ground in Christ. “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)
Here’s where we mention the unmentionable. The dirty secrets. If there’s one person you’d be too embarrassed to name your habit or sin to, that’s the very person who can help you. Trust me. Telling my Mom my nasty dirt was God’s way out for me. Thanks, Mom.
We begin to demolish the strongholds in Jesus’ Name (2 Corinthians 10:4). We lift our sword, amazed at the power of these words, and begin to tear down arguments.
No, I will not look at that. I will look at God’s creation. I will look in His Word. “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” (Psalm 101:3)
No, I will not manipulate others. I will serve in humility. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
No, I will not eat that. No, I will do not do that. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (I Corinthians 6:19,20)
We must keep our eyes on Christ if we want freedom. “With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
I visit Him frequently, and every time is a treat. Every time I visit, I strengthen the pathway in my brain that allows desire and satisfaction to flow back and forth. I begin to realize that the boundary lines really have fallen for me in pleasant places, and living inside God’s will for my life is pleasing! Pleasant! Delightful! “I have a delightful inheritance” – Him! Forever in Zion, united as a Family Forever. “I keep my eyes always on the Lord.” God, keep refocusing our hearts on You.