What have you done lately for your opponents? Have you prayed for them…to lose or to do something to hurt their own cause? Or, have you helped them in some way, perhaps even loved them by desiring what is best for them? Jesus set the bar extremely high when He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45a)
Western Oregon University’s girls softball team was playing Central Washington University on April 26, 2008. CWU had to win the game to win the conference and secure a playoff spot. WOU had 2 runners on base when senior Sara Tucholsky hit a homerun. It was her very first homerun in either high school or college. A dream come true…that is, until she missed first base, turned back to tag it, injured her knee badly and collapsed. She couldn’t go any farther. If her own team helped her around the bases, she would be called out. If a pinch runner came in, the homer would count only as a single. What a dilemma? Until the opposing first basewoman, Mallory Holtman, stepped in. She asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Sara. With no rule against it, she and shortstop Liz Wallace picked up the homerun hitter and carried her to touch each base. At home plate, they were welcomed by the whole WOU team…in tears.
Mallory later said, “We didn’t know she was a senior or that this was her first homerun. We just wanted to help her. In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much. It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a homerun.” Perhaps it helped that Mallory is the career homerun leader in the Great Northwest Atlantic Conference. She said she and Liz weren’t thinking about the playoff spot and didn’t consider the gesture something others wouldn’t do.
The outcome of the game? WOU won 4-2 and CWU didn’t win the conference or a playoff spot. One could argue WOU could have won, even without Sara’s homerun. Even if she stopped at first base, her team would have been ahead with her RBI’s. But, what a shame if this incredible bit of sportsmanship had not taken place and then been told throughout our nation and maybe the world. Mallory and Liz, by their kindness in helping an opponent, challenge each of us to do the same.
Jesus said that when we do, we are “sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven.” “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Then, later he showed us how to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. While on the cross, he asked God to forgive those who put Him there. His execution was in fact for His enemies, including us. “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life.” (Romans 5:10)
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.