My first memories of baseball involve me playing what my dad and I called “tag-up,” a game in which he tossed a ball off a door at the end of the hallway and I tagged up like it was a fly ball and tried to slide safely into the base before he tagged me out.

Baseball was the first and only game I ever truly loved. It’s the game of my childhood, youth, and now adulthood. Nothing can replace it. I will love it to the day I die. I played it for years, now I watch it, coach it, talk about it, and analyze it. It’s really the only game I care about.

Proverbs 5:18 speaks to a different young love–“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

My wife, Nancy, and I got married right out of college. We were 22. She’s the only woman I’ve ever loved and, having gotten married relatively young, we’ve now known one another longer than we haven’t. It’s pretty cool. She is, as the verse says, the wife of my youth.

Proverbs 5 contains lots of instructions about honoring the marriage relationship through personal purity and continued pursuit of your wife.

Here are a few observations, both for the married and unmarried guys.

Do you love your wife more than you love baseball? Or any other hobby you might have? You do? Wonderful. That means you enjoy spending time with her, enjoy analyzing her to discover who she really is, enjoy doing what brings her joy, enjoy giving yourself completely to her.

Would you go out of your way for your wife? We make road trips to watch, play, and coach baseball, regardless of the inconvenience and cost. Are we still going above and beyond like that for our wives?

Are you delaying marriage simply because you don’t want to grow up? No, I’m not suggesting that you rush into something or that you get married because “we’ve been together for a while now.” Not at all. But if you see marriage as simply and undesired interruption into your travel plans, maybe there’s some selfishness that needs to die.

Are you fulfilling your commitments? One of the best ways for unmarried people to be prepared for marriage is simply to make commitments and keep them. Opportunities are everywhere: as a player, coach, employee, son, friend, boyfriend, etc. If you aren’t in the habit of being faithful to commitments now, it won’t automatically happen when you get married.

Do you view marriage as a fountain or a drain? “Let your fountain be blessed,” the verse says. God has provided marriage for our good, not as a drain on our lives. As husbands love their wives, they are made better personally and have the chance to be used of God to bring out the best in their wives. Marriage then becomes a fountain, not a drain.

Baseball might have been my first love, but God has called me to make my wife my deepest love, just like Jesus loves his people. We might find that kind of love difficult, but it’s possible as we let Jesus live through us.

Lord Jesus, whether marriage is on my radar or not, make me a man of love, sacrifice, and commitment, just like you. Grow me up, teach me, change me. Amen.