Spring is in the air.
Flowers are in bloom. Lovers are strolling down the lane. Pollen is dropping from the sky like manna from heaven. We have one less hour in the morning and one more at night. Some of us are giving up chocolate- not me, of course- for lent. Easter celebrations ranging from discolored eggs to sunrise services are just around the corner. All is well with the world.
In all seriousness, I love spring and these are just a few reasons. My main reason for loving spring goes all the way back to my earliest childhood memories.
Fresh cut grass. Saturday mornings with friends. Oiling up the leather and having a catch with dad. Baseball was a family affair for us. Mom taught my brothers and I to throw, hit and catch. Dad coached us till we were adults.
Baseball. That is what I love about spring, and I know that does not sound spiritual in the least. It would sound a whole lot more impressive to tell you that I will spend the next few weeks of lent preparing for Easter by laying aside baseball but that would be a complete and utter lie.
The Collision of Two Loves
In fact, the first time I decided to give something up for lent was a couple of years ago. I wanted to impress Jesus by sitting in front of the vacant television reading my bible instead of watching Jackass reruns after a long day’s work. For the month from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday of 2007, I was the uber-christian who killed his television for the good of the human race and the glory of God.
It’s ok to be impressed by my humble denial of self- I mean, I certainly was!
That is, until Palm Sunday. Satan himself had influenced Major League Baseball to host the arrival of the boys of summer on the same day Jesus rode humbly into Jerusalem on an ass.
And there I was. Sitting between two opinions. Would I give into the flesh and watch Sunday Night Baseball? Would I give into my self-will and tackle lent with perfect obedience? Have you ever had a battle between your own lust and your own self-righteousness? Yeah, me neither.
In 2007, though, God himself made a way through the wilderness. In a great display of Christian community, I happened to be “fellowshipping” with my good buddy Garrett and a girl I wanted to date.
All of a sudden I was convicted. Did Paul not tell me to show hospitality somewhere in Romans? Yes, yes, I believe he had. And here I was, refusing to show hospitality to these poor souls.
“Do you guys want to watch the baseball game? Cause, I’m fasting from t.v. but if you guys want to watch it, I’m sure Jesus would forgive you.”
“Oh, there’s a baseball game on today?”
“You don’t have to act like you haven’t been anticipating Opening Day all winter on my account, Garrett!”
“Yeah, I haven’t watched a baseball game since I was a kid.”
Of course the girl was no help either. Here I was trying to merge my two loves- baseball and self-righteousness- and these so-called “friends” were nowhere to be found. I understood a little bit of the betrayal Jesus must have felt. Some friends!
I am sure you can guess by now that the girl did not work out either. If you can’t help me break my own rules what good are you to me anyway?
Put Me In Coach!
Over the years I have done a lot of thinking on Jesus and baseball. I think they are my favorite topics of discussion in that order (when my head is screwed on straight and the Giants aren’t in the World Series, at least). Last year I think I stumbled upon something I feel is worth sharing about the confluence of our life in Christ and the grand old game.
Consider this Opening Day in a short little discussion on my two favorite topics. I am fully convinced that we need not only pictures to illustrate what our lives in Christ are like but we need to work at implementing our faith into every moment of our lives. If baseball is off-limits to Christ then something is wrong. In fact, that is a pretty good rule for life. Anything that we are not willing to have given over to God is probably opposed to him and therefore destructive to us.
Faith and life are not enemies. Christ and reality are not strangers. The Christian faith is anything but etherial and theoretical. Jesus has everything to do with life and reality. That includes rest, fun and baseball.
So, if you love baseball, Jesus, both, neither, or if you are just fasting from reading good writing over lent, keep tuning in and let’s see where we get!
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. I turned on the television and watched Opening Day and Jesus did not strike me dead. At the end of the day justification is a whole lot better than rationalization.