This week marked the beginning of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. I realize that not everyone is a fan of America’s pastime (a fact that I will not try to hold against them), but it’s a big deal in our home. There is something intrinsically exciting about a new season. There is hope, new beginnings, a fresh start.
In our home we root for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Growing up in LA in the 1970s, I always knew who the players were going to be year in and year out. The outfield changed some, but I knew that Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey would be in the infield. However, those days are largely gone. Today most players change ball clubs several times during the course of their careers. But even though the faces may change, I still find myself a fan of the boys in blue.
The wave of what begins this week will carry us through the summer and into the early fall. There will be many ups and downs over the course of 162 games. There will be moments where our team will look like the ‘27 Yankees, and there will be times where they look like the ’62 Mets. But I will root for them just the same. They are my team. And unless the cable companies can work out a deal, I will have to be content with listening to the voices of Vinny, Charlie, and Rick on the radio. But I will listen.
Dodger games have been a part of our family from the very beginning. I took Kristen to a day game when we were first dating. In the early and awkward stages of getting to know one another, we sat through a 17 inning game that started in sunshine and ended long after dark. By the end we were sunburned and cold in the Los Angeles night air, but we had shared an experience that will last a lifetime.
While on our honeymoon in Monterey, California, while planning a day trip to San Francisco, I happened to check to see if the Giants had a home game. They did, and not only that, they were playing the Dodgers! Yes, we went to a Dodgers-Giants game at the old Candlestick Park on our honeymoon, and even got to see Fernando Valenzuela pitch! I knew I had married a good woman.
Our kids have all become faithful Dodger fans as well. Our oldest daughter, Anna, married Mike this past summer, who is also a diehard Dodger fan. I look forward to the day when I can take my grandkids to a game, and keep the tradition going.
But I am quick to admit that baseball is temporal. In the age to come, I don’t think we will care that much who won the World Series in 2015. Any entertainment–and let’s be honest, sports are entertainment–can be an ungodly distraction. If any thing draws away from devotion to Christ, it has become a sin, an idol. If I find that I read the box score more than my Bible, or if I know the ERA of the Dodgers’ starting rotation, but cannot defend from Scripture the deity of Christ, things are out of whack.
But, on the other hand, if I receive a thing–whether it be baseball or ballet, a good book or a good steak, movies or Mozart–with thanksgiving, as a gift from God to be enjoyed but not worshipped, it is a good thing. There is a God-honoring, God-glorifying reality in recognizing beauty, excellence, hard work, achievement, team work, time with friends and family, or the simple pleasure of a sunny day and a hot dog. Temporal things can touch eternity, if received with thanksgiving. Worship shows up in our lives, not only on Sunday mornings, but daily when we recognize God as the source of all life and the giver of every good thing.
So, with thanksgiving in my heart to the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, the Lover of my soul, my Savior and my God, I say, “Play ball!”