It’s the eleventh month of the year, and in our little recovery group, that means we spend the month talking about the eleventh step of our program which is:
Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for our knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out.
Today our daily reflections brought up the concept of “letting go and letting God.” I often think of J. Henry Waugh’s Universal Baseball Association when I consider the impact of God on my everyday life. If you aren’t familiar with the book I’m referencing, a brief plot summary can be found at its Wikipedia entry. My brother, a baseball fanatic and literature buff himself recently came across this book and asked me if I’d heard of it. I responded: “It’s only my SECOND FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!” He then asked if this was a book that “Strat-o-Matic types” know all about. Yes, I think it is, I responded.
A bit of an understatement, probably.
Anyway, the novel, in my opinion, is a discussion on the concepts of fate versus free will, and explores the idea, I think, that maybe God does play dice with the universe – in answer to Einstein’s famous quote. The author, Robert Coover, does this through the metaphor of a lonely accountant, named J. Henry Waugh, who calls himself the Proprietor of The Universal Baseball Association. The UBA is an invention of Waugh’s, a fictional universe of baseball players, with whom he’s played 56 seasons of a dice & chart baseball game of his own making. Waugh keeps meticulous records of the league, well beyond baseball statistics; he goes so far as to create geneologies, myths and folk songs, political affiliations and a mythos unique to its universe.
He comes to love his creation, especially the ballplayers with whom his attachment is real, though they may be imaginary. Above all others, he loves one rookie pitcher, Damon Rutherford. The novel opens with Henry in the throes of glee as his beloved Damon Rutherford is in the midst of pitching a perfect game.
I’m not going to write a 2000 word essay about the book right now, though I would love to, and probably will someday. I bring it up because it’s relevant to our topic this morning, “Let go, and Let God.”
Is God a Strat-o-Matic player? Am I, His creation, a collection of possibilities within a defined card? Like, am I a 1990 Kevin Maas, with outrageous splits and in the right circumstances – batting exclusively against righties, for instance – I could OPS 1.014, but in the wrong circumstances I fall short of the Mendoza Line? Am I included with the regular set, or am I an uncarded extra player?
Is God rolling the dice with me? Does He make the lineup decisions around here? Am I a starter on this team, or am I destined to a life on the bench?
When I think of letting go and letting God, I assume that God has almighty power to change my life at any time, and, more importantly, that He intends to use that power in my best interest. I prefer to believe that He is not J Henry Waugh, that He is not rolling the dice and that He can and wants to take over whatever I possibly give over to him.
I like to use this analogy when I’m trying to explain God to my own self: when my 3 year-old has trouble doing something I find easy, like zipping up her jacket, sometimes she’ll fight and fight and fight with it, frustrating herself to no end. And I’ll let her do that as long as she needs to. If she gets it zipped up, I’m so happy for her and proud of her. But if she can’t…if it’s just too much for her and her little fingers just aren’t capable of doing it yet…if she asks me for help nothing makes me happier than being able to help her when she needs me. I like to think that’s how God is looking at me. As if whatever I’m struggling with is as simple to Him as zipping up a jacket would be for me. And, that if I just give over to Him whatever is troubling me, He would be happy to take over and fix it for me. As long as I insist on doing it myself, however, I’m going to struggle.
So I say this prayer everyday: God, I offer myself to you, to do with me as you will. Please God relieve me of the burden of my self – of the burden of my ego and my arrogance, so that I may better do your will. Please, God, take away my difficulties so that my victory over them may help me bear witness to others that I may help of your power, your love, and your way of life. May I do your will always! And, please God, I ask that you make your will known to me in a blatant and straightforward manner. I’m not good with subtlety.
Does God play Strat-o-Matic with a Paul Dylan card? I doubt it. But I look forward to rolling a couple face-to-face games with Him in the great hereafter. I’ll stack a 1966 Sandy Koufax card up against anything God could throw out there any day.