Opening Day and the Long Season of Life

Opening Day and the Long Season of Life

Baseball Opening day.  Few phrases produce in my heart a greater sense of longing, anticipation and excitement. 

In early spring 2001, I was a young, soon-to-be college graduate, embarking on my first career, as a play-by-play broadcaster in Minor League Baseball.  For me, opening day represented the culmination, not only of a long winter of moving; settling into a new community; learning a new job; and making new friends, but of a many years of working toward a moment I never thought would come.  Yet, on that cool spring evening in Macon, GA, with my stomach twisted in knots and a future Major League superstar on the mound, opening day finally came. 

But the truth about baseball opening day, with all its pageantry and excitement, is that it gives way to a long season, marked by hot days, long nights, unexpected thunderstorms, and hours of unnoticed, unseen work.  Periodically a walk-off homerun, a no-hitter, or a stadium packed with thousands of fans eagerly looking forward to the post-game fireworks breaks through as a reminder – this is really great!

In many ways, the Christian life is like a long season of baseball.  Often, it begins with a bang, with the dawning of the spring of life in the heart of the believer, full of anticipation of what is to come.  Uniting with the local church through baptism and the celebration of first communion, often feels like the excitement of a stadium filled with cheering fans, only to give way to the realities of a life lived more in the obscurity of daily faithfulness and in the face of the challenges common to everyone than in those unforgettable moments.  Like a baseball broadcaster or player in game 100 out of a 162-game season, where does the Christian find the motivation to press on in faith?

In Hebrews 12, the author engages the ears of weary Christians to hear the sounds of the grandstands of believers whose seasons have come and gone saying, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” He then lifts the heads of those same tired believers that they might “(look) to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” 

In other words, like a baseball player in the dog days of summer must look somewhere else for motivation, Christians in the dog day realities of life, hear the cheers of believers from every generation, bearing witness that it’s all worth it.  And when the pageantry of the those opening day moments give way to those hot days and long nights of life, we look to Jesus who is the reason we live and the hope we have that when our “season” is complete, we will receive the prize reserved for those for whom he “endured the cross, despising its shame.”