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Chaplain's Corner

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Pressure is a Privilege

18 Sep 2023 | Lt. Jason Moore Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

It’s late on Sunday afternoon and the sun is hanging just above the trees. The air is hot and sticky, and I’m standing just beyond the fence in centerfield, pacing back and forth, in a narrow ribbon of shade. This is the third game of the day, and my son’s team is hanging on to a 5-3 lead. They are two outs away from winning the tournament, and though this isn’t the Little League World Series, for my eleven-year-old and his buddies, it’s a big deal.

On Saturday they played sloppy and lost both games. The pitchers (including my son) couldn’t find the plate, the fielders bobbled routine grounders, and then overthrew the bases. Though we lead in both games, we couldn’t hold on. When the other team loaded the bases, we crumbled.

This, of course, is why I’m pacing by the parking lot, afraid to watch but unable to turn away. This is why my smart watch keeps giving me “relax reminders.” I don’t need to take deep breaths, I just need two outs.

Then our pitcher walks a batter, and the next one hits a routine pop-up over our first baseman’s head. My son races over from second but somehow it falls in between them. A collective groan goes up from the parents. The other team is on their feet, banging on the dugout, smelling blood. Our pitcher misses low and away, and the ball skips to the backstop. Both runners advance and the tying run is on second. Here we go again, I think.

Our coach calls timeout and walks slowly to the mound as the boys huddle around him. I wonder what he’s saying. I wonder what I will say if we lose this game. It will make for a long drive home. The players return to their position looking sharp. They are on their toes, moving with each pitch. Our pitcher is throwing strikes again. He gets ahead, and then finishes him with a high fastball.  The next batter pops up on the first pitch. I hold my breath. My son squeezes it in his glove and the game is over. Crisis averted. Victory secured. The boys are all laughs and smiles. They take pictures, and we celebrate with corndogs and milkshakes.

On the way home, we re-live each at bat. We talk about Saturday’s meltdown and Sunday’s make-up. “Hey, what did coach say to you guys on the mound?” I asked.

“Oh, he just reminded us of what he said after yesterday’s game.”

“What was that?”

“He said that pressure is a privilege.”

A few days have passed, but those words keep coming back to me. As a husband, father, and chaplain, I feel the pressure. Trying to serve my family and my battalion well, is not easy. The weight of responsibility is real. But is also a privilege. To have these people in my life…to be called to love and serve them. 

The Apostle Paul knew what this was like. Not only did he experience tremendous persecution and deprivation, but he also felt a heavy weight of responsibility for the churches he planted. In 2 Corinthians he writes, “apart from the other things, there is the daily anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:29). Even so, he didn’t see this as a curse. For the same care that created this pressure also produced great joy. He rejoiced over them, even as he reminded them to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, [and] give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

In these days of homework and confirmation briefs, of field trips and field exercises, of missed birthdays and I’ll make it up to you, I hope you’ll remember—pressure is a privilege.