My Braves won the World Series last night and I’m ecstatic. Like, really, really ecstatic. But why?! I haven’t been to a Braves game in several years. I’m not a sports fanatic. So what is up with the extreme exuberance I’m feeling and expressing as my Braves have fought and finally attained world champion status for the first time in 26 years? It’s time to blog and process and let you come along for the ride.
My whole four decades of existence I’ve been a Braves fan. Though my parents were also not sports fanatics, or even sports lovers by any stretch of the imagination, I distinctly remember the TV being turned on in our South Carolina home to watch the Braves battle in the World Series back in the 90s when I was a teenager. Every New Years while growing up, I traveled to Atlanta to visit my grandmother and consequently had a strong attachment to the city. In college, I finally experienced a Braves game in person (though I had the privilege of enjoying a few games in childhood at the Braves’ minor league farm team in my hometown). Then came our move to Atlanta eighteen years ago, which led to attending a number of games (before I had children), all during Andruw Jones heyday (my favorite ballplayer), and while sitting directly behind home plate thanks to free company tickets (we were incredibly spoiled). My heart was knit fast. No turning back. These are my Braves forever and for always.
Sounding a bit over the top? Just stating reality. I love my Braves.
However, over and over Braves fans have been disappointed. We cheer, we scream, we long – but we don’t win. But this year – this year was different. We finally accomplished what we have been dreaming of. We finally had the victory. We stayed in the game. We were mentally tough. We overcame challenges. We endured the pandemic season void of in-person support. We suffered the humiliating public disgrace of having the All-Star game moved. We dealt with the jabs from friends cheering for opposing teams. We resolutely faced our opponents on the field again and again and again. And this time – this time, though we still rode an emotional roller coaster along the way (game five of the World Series was horrible!) – this time, we at last experienced the ultimate victory. World champions! We didn’t give up. We didn’t relinquish the dream. We held onto the hope that one day we would win. And today we no longer walk by faith but walk by sight.
And that’s the turning point in understanding why I care so much. The spiritual undertones. Currently we walk by faith though we long for the day we walk by sight. Currently we are in the throes of an intense struggle against a powerful opponent. Currently we are eagerly anticipating that final out. Currently we long for Christ’s promised return. The reward. The inheritance. The victory. And watching the Braves last night dominate gave us an inkling of what that day will feel like.
Braves fans have waited 26 years for this moment. Christians have been anxiously waiting 2,000 years for the truly ultimate victory. But when will it arrive? When will our faith turn into sight? When will that final out take place?
Keep playing ball. Keep cheering. Rejoice in the wins. Get up after the losses. Never lose heart. Never give up. Keep on keeping on until that final out. Victory is guaranteed if you stay in the game! (Galatians 6:9)
However! Ensure you cheer for the right team! Only those hearts that are fast knit to Christ will experience that glorious day that will far outshine this exuberant day here in Braves Country. Only Christ’s blood covering our deep sinfulness will grant us access to the one and only eternal victory celebration. (Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 9:14; I Peter 1:19) And if you didn’t grow up cheering for the right team, that’s all right. Today is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2) God welcomes all new genuine fans up until the moment that final out takes place. (Luke 23:39-43)
But infinitely more importantly…
Come, Lord Jesus!!! (Revelation 22:20)