Every Ball Counts! 

1 Corinthians 9:22 Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him, so that he will let me tell him about Christ, and let Christ save him.

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the Word of God urgently at all times, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not. 

I spent two weeks in India in late May and early June. It’s a fascinating culture in many ways from the beautiful mountain vistas to the spicy vegetarian food to the 115 degree climate to the all-consuming traffic in the major cities. I had never seen that many vehicles so close together, not even in New York City.

As far as sports, the people of India were excited about the World Cup (soccer), but they are absolutely crazy about cricket. I learned a lot about cricket while I was there because cricket is broadcast constantly on Star Sports, the Indian sports channel for cricket. America has The Golf Channel, and this network was the equivalent of The Cricket Channel.  

There are different types of cricket matches. The traditional match is called a test match, which pits two international teams over a five-day period. The teams play a match of 90 overs. An over is a series of six balls bowled by the bowler to the batsman. The pace of play is leisurely with a morning session, a break for lunch, and an afternoon session. 

The newest cricket match format in India is called a T-20.  This match lasts for several  hours, and the length of the match is similar to a nine-inning baseball game. One team bats for 20 overs, and then the other team bats for 20 overs.   

The pace of the T-20 match is fast-paced and aggressive due to the limited number of overs. The goal is to score as many runs as quickly as possible by batting the ball over the 360 degree boundary in the air for six runs, which is called a six, or beyond the boundary on the ground for four runs, which is called a four. Because of the limited number of opportunities, every ball counts in a T-20.  

While I was there, the India Premier League (IPL) held its T-20 playoffs and championship, which was hyped like our Super Bowl and the Final Four. In the championship match the Kings XI of Punjab batted first and posted an impressive 199 runs for the Kolkata Knight Riders to chase. After Kolkata’s star went out quickly, their chances looked bleak, but “Koolkata” scored a 6 and a 4 in their 20th and final over to take the title, 200-199! 

The test match and T-20 match are contested at different paces, which made me think about which pace we Christians are supposed to use.  The apostle Paul taught us in 1 Corinthians 9:22,“Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him.”  Invest time to get to know people and develop relationships that allow people to see the love of Christ in your life. That approach is similar to the five-day test match.  But Paul completed that verse with the purpose, “so that he will let me tell him about Christ, and let Christ save him.”  Paul also reminded us of our sense of urgency in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word of God urgently at all times, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not.” That is the T-20 pace.  Let’s take advantage of the opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ that result from our relationship building. Just like every ball counts in a T-20, every opportunity to share the gospel can count eternally. 

Father God, help us live our lives in ways that bring honor and glory to you.  May we take advantage of each opportunity to share your love.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit which gives us discernment to go at the test match pace or the T-20 pace. In Jesus’s name amen. 

I tried my hand as a cricket batsman. I believe that I will stick to golf.

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