This week marks my thirty-seventh Opening Day as a television director for Texas Rangers broadcasts. I must have started when I was twelve. Someone asked me at church if I ever grow tired of Opening Day. The answer is a resounding no! When I do it will be time to move to a rocking chair at the old director’s home. I feel like I am just behind Lou Gehrig as the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” to have been able to do this year after year.
In my mind there is no more special day in sports than Opening Day in baseball. It is an annual rite of Spring to post this article on the magic of Opening Day. The smell of freshly cut emerald green grass delights the senses. The base lines painstakingly and perfectly defined by a grounds crew that is committed to perfection on this day. Red, white, and blue bunting give the ball park a festive World Series look. The players bounce around like little boys. They seem a little extra grateful that they are paid to play a kid’s game.
The hot dogs taste like gourmet food. Humphrey Bogard wisely said that “a hot dog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz”. Souvenirs a young fan begs for become treasures to be kept until adulthood. And then it becomes a challenge to explain to your wife why a twenty-five-year old bobble head needs to be in the china cabinet.
Children skip school and parents do not care because memories are being made for both of them. There is no shot I love more as a television director than the one of a Dad or Mom pointing to the field and explaining this wonderful game to their child.
The atmosphere is truly magic. It is Opening Day and every team has hope. Every team is undefeated. Who will be this year’s team that surprises and surpasses all expectations? Each fan has dreams and they are hopefully, or perhaps hopelessly, optimistic. This is a new day and a new season. Old mistakes are forgotten. Past errors are no longer important. Today is the annual renewal of the incredible marathon that is big league baseball. It is a clean slate. The team has a new identity.
I once longed for such a defining moment in my spiritual journey. It took me a long time to understand that God’s Word tells us that every day is like Opening Day (Dave’s paraphrase). I do have a clean slate because of Christ. There is hope. Yesterday’s sins are forgotten if you have accepted the gift of Jesus on the Cross. Every morning that I awake and see the magic of a new sunrise I know that I am renewed, redeemed and ready to face the day whatever pitches are thrown my way. I don’t have to wait a year to have a chance for renewal. Paul writes that every day holds the spiritual magic of renewal and victory in Christ.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. (I Corinthians 5:17-18, NLT)
I am grateful that in my spiritual journey God that has given me a chance for “Opening Day” renewal every day of my life. I have had some really bad seasons during my career as a follower of Jesus. But I am learning that every day is a gift. I hope I have a few more Opening Days as a director. Then I long for many more as a fan with my precious grandchildren. Dan Patrick once quipped about an injured player. “He is listed as day to day. But then again, aren’t we all?”
The fragile nature of our lives makes the bigger questions so much more important even as I enjoy the hope of Opening Day. Every day of my journey with Jesus can be like this special day in baseball. I can be transformed and new. Past losses (sins) can be redeemed and forgiven. There can be an exhilarating freshness in the journey. I can realize that I am a child of God and I can be grateful that I get to call Him Father. I can believe that my hope for the future is real. I can understand that I can be a better teammate to others that I encounter and not expect my team to be perfect. The magic of a fresh start happens once a year in baseball. It can happen every day for a follower of Jesus when we focus on His amazing Grace.
Author Dave Burchett’s latest book is Waking Up Slowly:Reconnecting with God and One Another.