Iím Not Home Yet
With the major-league baseball season nearly over, it seems appropriate to use America’s pastime in this month’s devotional. It may seem strange that someone from Canada is a baseball fan. We’re a country where mothers hand small hockey sticks to their babies instead of rattles. But I’ve always loved the grand ol’ game, and this season I was able to travel to several ballparks for games—the storied Wrigley Field in Chicago; the field of dreams at Fenway Park in Boston; and my own home field, Rogers Stadium in Toronto, where my not-so-consistent Blue Jays did their best against the Yankees. All around these ballparks are plaques and pictures of the great players—most of them in the Baseball Hall of Fame—lauding their accomplishments in the game.
In baseball, much of the attention is centered on the pitcher. When a pitcher is on, painting the outside of the strike zone, throwing curve balls that dip the millisecond the batter commits to the swing—oh, boy!—there’s nothing more poetic in sports. There’s something universally exhilarating for pitcher and fans alike when the pitcher walks off the mound after a job well done and all the fans rise, leaning in applause toward the pitcher, who tips his hat in humble appreciation before descending the steps to the dugout. There is no greater accomplishment for a pitcher than to pitch a perfect game, when not a single hitter reaches base at all. This season, the Chicago White Sox’s Philip Humber pitched himself into the game’s record books with a perfect game back in April.
Given the adulation bestowed upon pitchers when they pitch a no-hitter or perfect game, imagine Bronson Arroyo’s disappointment this past June. Arroyo, who throws for the Cincinnati Reds, pitched a no-hitter into the eighth inning before the Milwaukee Brewers’ batters got to him. In the eighth inning, Arroyo gave up three runs before being pulled from the game. Relief pitcher Sean Marshall came out of the bullpen, threw a few pitches, and saved the game. The kicker? Not only did Bronson Arroyo not get a no-hitter; he didn’t even get awarded the win. After he was pulled, the Reds scored another run to take a 4-3 lead, so Marshall was awarded the win. Arroyo labored through eight innings while Marshall sat and watched; then Marshall was rewarded with the win.
Which brings me, believe it or not, to Hebrews 11. The book of Hebrews is a dissertation to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah and that he is supreme and completely sufficient for salvation. Hebrews spends its first ten chapters proving the supremacy of Christ and the rewards for living a faithful life and looking forward to Christ’s return. In the NLT, chapter 11 is titled “Great Examples of Faith” and outlines the faithfulness of God’s people since the creation of the world.
Hebrews 11 is a hall-of-fame chapter lauding the great faith of God’s people. In rereading the chapter this week, verse 13 jumped out at me: “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it” (NLT). The chapter walks us through the hall of fame: Abraham . . . Joseph . . . Moses . . . Rahab . . . all faithful followers of God who acted on his commands, who pitched eight innings of no-hit baseball, trusting in the endgame. The chapter draws to a close with the words of verse 39: “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised” (NLT).
I’m humbled by the fact that these Old Testament heroes walked before us to complete the script God had written, yet none of them got to see the reward. They died preparing the way for the people who would follow behind them, leading ultimately to the birth of Jesus Christ, who came along and did the same. Jesus labored, suffered, and died. He left the field. And thanks to him, we can walk onto the field and be victorious.
God’s story continues. There are many who follow behind us. We are asked to follow the example of the people in Hebrews 11: raise our children by the Word, share our faith with our coworkers, and lead a Christ-centered life. We may or may not live to see Christ’s return, but we believe it will happen. He will come back!
The Christian band Building 429 released a hit song called “Where I Belong” last year on their album Listen to the Sound. The chorus goes, “All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong, take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong.”
Listen to “Where I Belong” to end your devotion time today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hoq44rFNbhY
Ron DeBoer is a writer and educator living near Toronto, where he almost caught a foul ball off the bat of Yankee great Derek Jeter this summer.