When my son moved from machine/coach pitch a few years ago, he entered the wild world of kid pitch baseball. It’s the biggest leap for players, moving from the machine that throws the ball in the same location and with the same speed each time, to the ever-erratic nature of a novice pitcher.

The greatest obstacle for young kids to overcome when they move to kid pitch is the fear of the ball. You’ve seen it. The pitcher’s arm moves forward toward release, and the hitter immediately begins his retreat toward the edge of the batter’s box. He might take a defensive swing or simply take the pitch, but his terror makes him just want the whole experience to end.

So, when my son moved to kid pitch, I did what some old-schoolers view as cowardly. I bought him a protective guard for his lead elbow. Then, I made him stand as close to the plate as possible without being out of the box. Two things happened. He felt protected, which reduced his fear of being hurt by the ball. He learned the strike zone because he was close enough to the plate to see it.

Proverbs 2:7–“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk integrity.”

Just like an arm guard protects my son from errant pitches, God himself is a shield and protector for those who walk with him. Eternally, we are protected from the punishment for sin. By his grace, those who place their faith in Jesus receive the forgiveness of God and eternal life. Temporally, we are protected from the power of sin in our lives. It’s not that we’ll never make another mistake or get hit by the pitches life throws, but that we are given a new nature, one that is no longer controlled by sin and its temptations.

Just like my son has learned the strike zone by standing close to the plate, God gives “sound wisdom” for those close to him, the upright. Plate discipline is foundational to being a good hitter. The ability to make wise choices about whether to swing or not is a skill that only comes by knowing the strike zone. In life, the decisions we make are far more important and impactful than laying off a pitch a few inches outside. Wisdom in making decisions about your future, your reactions, your commitments, and all the rest is foundational to the life God wants for you. Without it, you’ll chase things you will only regret later, just like that curveball in the dirt.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your protection in my life, for the freedom you’ve given me from the penalty and power of sin. Help me to know your wisdom like great hitters know the strike zone. Amen