My profession is television sports directing. I will be doing that until more of you people buy my books and read my blogs. I direct games for the Texas Rangers baseball team and the last two games have been a director’s dream. The Rangers had “walk-off” wins in both games. That means they score the winning run in the last at bat and the game is over. Both teams “walk-off” the field but with very different body languages.
Yesterday a 9th inning home run by Ranger first baseman Chris Davis gave Texas an amazing win. The moment was so much fun to direct. The shots of the intense concentration by Davis. The Seattle pitcher trying to save the game. Ranger players hanging on the dugout rail praying for a miracle. And then it happens. The ball flies deep toward center. The Ranger player start to jump up and down as they try to will the ball out of the park. The ball clears the fence and pandemonium ensues.
Ranger players Ian Kinsler, Hank Blalock and others leap the rail and sprint toward home plate to greet the hero of the moment. I grab a shot of the devastated Mariner pitcher walking off with shoulders slumped. Chris Davis rounds third, flips his helmet in the air with joy and heads toward a throng of teammates encircling home plate. They are smiling and waiting with unbridled excitement for Chris to get “home” so they can celebrate. As he nears home plate Davis makes a gigantic leap into the throng and the mayhem and joy continues. The dogpile absorbs Davis. What a picture. Back in the Mariner dugout I show the Mariner catcher sitting alone and staring into space. That is drama of sports and it was described eloquently during the famous open of Wide World of Sports.
The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat.
Paul often used sports as an analogy for spiritual things.
I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. (I Cor.9, NLT)
Today I reflected on that passage and the thrilling finish yesterday. As much fun as that moment was yesterday the Rangers will play another game tonight. It may be an exciting win. It may be a disappointing loss. But the thrill of yesterday is just a memory. I thought about the parallels of sports and living out our faith. How I need to be faithful and just show up everyday and doing everything I can to spread the Good News and its blessings. I thought about the eternal prize that will not fade away when I finish this race. I began to imagine my heavenly homecoming and how it might resemble that moment from yesterday. I saw myself “rounding third” and heading toward all of the loved ones who had gone ahead. I saw them smiling with unbridled joy as I moved toward them. I imagined that I jumped into a dogpile of dear friends and family who had shared my journey. I saw my Dad jumping the rail as I approach so he can be there I as cross to home. My wonderful nephew, precious daughter and my Mom are waiting at home. Incredible friends who had a big part of me staying within the basepaths over the many years jump with joy. And then I picture emerging from the dogpile of family and friends and seeing Jesus. He hugs me warmly. I am safe at home.