"This is an edited version of something I wrote a few years ago after attending a Cubs opening day."
“Hope springs eternal”. The theme of Cubs opening day year after year that turns into “wait till next year” usually not far into the season. Now there have been the exceptions to that when they have made the post-season when the “Wait till next year” cry was done while sobbing over thinking of what could have been. I have seen every other Chicago sports team win championships while still waiting for our turn to come. I have seen players leave the Cubs only to go on to win championships with other teams. I have seen players turn bad seasons with the Cubs into Hall of Fame careers elsewhere.
Admittedly, I fall into that “This is the year” mindset every year on opening day. I have been at Wrigley for the home opener every year for the better part of 30 years. I think I have been a fan since I was 7 and that would put the year at 1975, so I have seen my share of torment. I suffered through seeing the ball go through Durham’s legs, cork in Sosa’s bat, that nameless guy almost catch the foul ball in the 2003 playoffs, the Savior of Baylor, Baker, and Pinella, and the list goes on and on.
So where am I going with this? A few days ago I was at another Cubs home opener. The Cubs had a 2-0 lead and I was already thinking that maybe this could really be the year! It was long after that thought I saw a Pittsburgh hit a grand slam that pretty much landed deep inside my gut like a hard punch. As the cold rain continued to fall, I started feeling worse and worse. I went home and couldn’t shake this feeling of…stupidity. Why do I do this to myself year after year after year?!?! I must be some kind of special idiot in a strange class of idiots because clearly I’m not alone in the Cubdome world. There are many others like me. That much I know but I don’t want to be a part of the misery loves company anymore! There is something bigger at work here and I need to find it.
There is nothing in my life bigger than God. I need to put that out there so there is no room for thinking that baseball is bigger than God in my life. It was the night of the home opener that a wave of clarity came over me that helped me put everything with the Cubs and baseball in proper perspective and God tied it all together.
I became a follower of Christ in 2006. Prior to that, if you were to ask my friends and family what the biggest passion in my life and what am I most faithful to (after my family and friends), I am sure their answer would be the Cubs. I’m not proud of that answer but it is reality. It is now that I realize that being a Cubs fan all of those years wasn’t a waste of time at all but was preparing me for a life of following Christ. You see, baseball is God’s favorite sport and clearly the Cubs are clearly God’s chosen team. Now I’m sure that some might disagree with that statement since the Cubs haven’t won a championship in over 100 years. You see being a follower of Christ isn’t only about winning.
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s through the years of watching teams lose over and over again that prepared me for a life with Jesus. He is my victory and He played the ultimate game so I could continue to play. You see the Cubs remind me about how Jesus must look at me. Each year the Cubs say they will do better. They make some changes, and promise that this time will be different. Well guess what, it wasn’t. Doesn’t this sound familiar? We are sinners! We continue to fail even though we know we need to do better and we keep promising to do better yet we continue to fall to sin. You know what? God still loves us!
John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
He washes away our sin just as Cub fans continue to go each year on opening day saying “This will be the year!” We forgive the Cubs for years past and choose to look towards a brighter future. I can’t think of a better comparison to how much God loves and forgives us of our sins than the Cubs. We fall, they lose, and God forgives. There ya go.
Baseball is a long, slow game with lots of second chances. The professional football season is a short 16 game season, and there is little room for failure. Every loss is huge. But baseball is a slow, forgiving game. A single game can last three hours or more. A season (162 games) lasts six months. A team can string together six, seven losses in a row and still win its division championship. There are plenty of second chances, which is a good thing because baseball is a game of failure. Even the best hitters fail two-thirds of the time. If you failed two times out of three in your job, you’d get fired. In baseball, a .333 batting average will land you in the Hall of Fame. Just like us sinners. No matter how poorly we play, God forgives our errors and puts us back in tomorrow’s lineup. It’s through repentance and forgiveness that we get into the ultimate Hall of Fame and get to spend eternity with Jesus.
No wonder I have liked baseball all my life. This just showed me that being a Cubs fan was also about faith. Just like being a follower of Christ. When we think of faithfulness, we think of God but are we called to be faithful? Cubs fans are called faithful but that isn’t even in the same ballpark as how faithful God is to us.
1. In our salvation - "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." I Corinthians 1: 8-9
2. In the deliverance from temptation - "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I Corinthians 10: 13
3. In our sanctification - "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." I Thessalonians 5: 23-24
4. In forgiving us and cleansing us from sin - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I John 1: 9
5. In our suffering - "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." I Peter 4: 19
6. In eternal life - "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10: 23
In closing, I want to show one last analogy to God and baseball and that is in the movie “A Field of Dreams”. Let me just run through a few moments that I can remember and see if you can pick up my point. If you watch the movie, you will hear the three (once again the number 3) phrases the voice tells him:
If you build it, He will come.
Ease His pain.
Go the distance
Think about what those phrases mean in the life and vision of someone following Jesus Christ.
Have the vision
Go the distance.
And I thought I was just going to another Cubs opener.
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Steve DeLuca is a 12-year, stage 3 colon cancer survivor, acoustic neuroma brain tumor survivor, 22-time marathon finisher, 2007 Ironman Wisconsin finisher, happily married father of 4, and a follower of Jesus. Not all in that order.
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