Countdown to Liftoff – Day 34

“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.” Luke 24:13-16

On Resurrection Sunday, two disciples packed it up and left town. One was named Cleopas, the other unnamed. However, Cleopas’ wife, Mary, was one of the women at the crucifixion. It’s conjecture, but maybe the pair walking down the road to Emmaus was a married couple. It seems they stayed in Jerusalem for the death and burial of Christ, they stayed for the Sabbath, and then they decided to leave, just when things were starting to get good.

This reminds me of a time PB and I went to a Brewer baseball game.

Our team fell behind in the first inning and stayed that way through eight innings. Our two best hitters combined for one walk out of ten at-bats. It was a slow day at the diamond. By the end of the eighth, we were still down by one run and PB was getting antsy. He leaned in and whispered, “If we leave now, we can get a jump on the traffic.” The bottom of the order was due to bat in the ninth, so I reluctantly agreed and we beat the crowd out of the stadium.

Before we found our way to the car, the Brewers had two men on base. Before we left the parking lot, the game was tied. Before we left the city limits of Milwaukee, our pitcher mowed down the order in the tenth inning. And before we reached the suburbs, the crowd (the very same crowd we so cleverly beat out of the ballpark) was enjoying a come-from-behind victory. We missed it because we gave up before it was really over.

Sometimes we just quit too soon. There’s a win coming within minutes, but we throw in the towel, thinking it’s over, when in reality we are standing on the brink of something big. 

Cleopas and his companion almost missed out on the comeback victory. But Jesus listened in on their conversation and kindly walked with them in their sorrow and disillusionment. As the two disciples were desperately searching for truth, Truth Himself joined them.

There’s a saying, “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.”
It means that we shouldn’t presume
to know the outcome of an event
that’s still in progress.
We shouldn’t assume
that something is irreversible.
We shouldn’t give up on God’s plan, ever.
We shouldn’t leave the stadium until the last out.

Opening Day

Opening Day of a new major league baseball season is a holiday in our house. It’s right up there with New Year’s Day and the first day of school as a “fresh start” kind of day. We wear our team t-shirts, eat hot dogs for lunch and tune in to see the first pitch.

I guess you could say Easter is the ultimate “opening day”. The stone rolled away and the tomb was opened. A man who was dead three days prior walked out of the dark cave and said, “Play ball!” Not really. I made that last part up. But “Go and make disciples…” sounds a lot like “Hey, team, go and take the field!”

The world has been closed up for a year, and although it may be too soon to fling wide the gates, we can at least begin the pre-game warmups together. This week I wrote a few thoughts on this:

“Play ball!” will be heard this week from many MLB home plates. Yes, please. Let’s play ball. Let’s all get back in the game.

If you need to stay in the outfield for a while, that’s fine. Just get back on the field. Hopefully, you’ll be able to join the team in the dugout soon.

It’s just that some of us have been trying to cover lots of positions and we’re getting tired. We need you back.

Sure, we’ve been dealt some curve balls and wild pitches, but standing in the box is easier if your teammates are with you, cheering you on. The stadium has been pretty quiet.

Sometimes it seems like there have been more strike outs than home runs, more errors than sparkling double plays, more losses than victories. There have been complaints about the uniforms, the schedule, the coaching. A few went to play for other teams. But thankfully, enough of us kept showing up to avoid forfeiting the season.

Hey! It’s opening day and I’m sensing something new! I can’t wait to hear the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. So lace up your cleats and grab your glove because we have a game to play. Please don’t sit this one out.

Relax, everything’s going to be all right;
rest, everything’s coming together; 
open your hearts,
love is on the way!
Jude 1:2, The Message

Play Ball

baseball

As a kid I wasn’t much of an athlete, although I tried.

In fifth grade I joined the girl’s summer softball team.  The coach put me in when we were getting creamed and there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth and it was getting late and he needed a sure out.  Thus ended my softball career.

In junior high, I went out for basketball.  I made a basket once.  For the other team.  I cried my eyes out in the locker room, even though we lost by twenty points.  So I hung up my sneakers for good.

In high school, I ran in the 440 relay.  My real reason for going out for track was because my voice teacher told me running would be good for my singing.  It was.  I lost every race but got the lead in the musical.

When I had kids of my own who showed an interest in sports,

I finally found my true calling.

I was a great fan.

That’s why today is such a great day.

In fact, today is a doubly great day.

This afternoon, I will tune in to watch the Milwaukee Brewers’ Opening Day of Major League Baseball.

Tonight, I will cheer on the Wisconsin Badgers as they play in the NCAA National Championship game.

I have never been so excited to spend hours in front of the television,

but then,

that’s my calling.

Streaking

brewerFor the first time in five years, the Milwaukee Brewers opened the baseball season with a win, stirring up hope among the faithful for a promising summer.  Then they lost the next five games.  A week later the Brew Crew began a nine game winning streak, causing fans’ confidence to soar.  But it wasn’t long and the losses started piling up – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in a row.  This is what you call a streaky team.  For fans, it’s a roller coaster ride.

In comparison, the leaders of the division (the St. Louis Cardinals – boo!) have one stretch of wins (when they played the Brewers – yikes!).  Most of their season looks like this: L, W, L, W, W, L, W, W.  This is what you call a consistent team.  They lose some games, but win more. For fans, it’s a lazy river ride.

I think my spiritual life resembles the Brewers more than the Cardinals.  I am probably what you’d call a “streaky” follower of Christ.  (Also, I’ve been a streaky blogger, as of late.)   I am gung-ho when it comes to starting a new spiritual discipline, and tend to begin strong before falling into a pattern of fits-and-starts.  If the losses outnumber the wins, I’m tempted to throw in the towel on the whole endeavor.

At least I’m not alone.  In Psalm 119: 5 David wrote, “Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set.” (Message)  “Oh, how I want to follow consistently.” (Living Bible)

The beauty of both baseball and living a steady Christian life (and blogging)  is that every day is a chance for a new beginning.  Every game offers a fresh start — so does every inning……and every at-bat.  God assures us that His mercies are “new every morning” as well.  We just need to keep showing up at the park, keep stepping up to the plate, and keep swinging at the pitch.

I thank God for His steady, consistent love for me.  And for a fresh batch of mercies waiting for me every morning.

Sweet Potatoes, Baseball and Signs

I know, I know.  I’ve been slacking.  August is a good month to take a sabbatical, though.  As summer winds down, each day needs to be savored.  Before fall activities crank up, some non-activity is sweet relief.  Here are a few pics for your viewing pleasure.  I’ll see you in September!

Hudson started eating sweet potatoes….and using a fork….kind of.

 

 He didn’t hit any home runs this summer….

…and neither did he……

…which means no one had to run the bases in their underwear this season.

 

I found some signs at a flea market.  Instead of buying them, I took a picture.

 

 I’ll stop now.