I remember a Little League baseball player once who would go to the plate, stand there for three or four pitches, strike out every time, and then go back to the dugout with his head hung low. He was constantly frustrated with his performance. So, the coach gave him some very sage advice: "Billy (or whatever his name was), you have to swing the bat. You'll never hit the ball if you don't swing the bat."
How often do we need to heed this same advice in our own lives? How many times do we hope for results, but we don't take the steps or risk necessary to see those results come to fruition? Maybe it's laziness, maybe it's fear of failure, or maybe it's ignorance, but whatever the reason, we too often want the reward without the work. As an educator, I've encountered countless students who want their college diplomas, but they don't want to put in the "sweat equity" necessary to complete their classes successfully. As a Chaplain in the Army, I've encountered Soldiers who want the educational and other benefits of the military, but they don't want to do the hard work of sacrificial service. And, too, as a pastor, I've had congregants who want to see their local churches grow in size, but they don't want to serve in the church, invite people to church, or do any sort of community outreach. All of these people stand up at the plate, but they never swing the bat.
Life, however, requires a swing. It requires each of us to set our goals, step up to the plate, and take a hack at them. Sure, sometimes we'll strike out, sometimes we'll foul pitches off, and sometimes we'll hit easy grounders or pop flies. But every once in a while, if we take enough swings and if we work hard enough on our technique, we'll hit a line drive into the gap or, better yet, we may send one sailing over the outfield fence. And, believe me, when that happens, you'll be glad you took that bat off your shoulder and gave it a whirl!