Monday, January 26, 2015

“It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame”

Ernest Banks
Having grown up in Chicago, I have been a Cubs fan since before I ever put on a Little League uniform. I learned the expression “Die Hard”, not from a Bruce Willis movie, but from what it means to root, root, root, for the home team, year after year whether they are in first place, or in the case of the Cubbies, mostly in last.

The last time the Cubs were in the World Series was in 1945. The last time the Cubs won the World Series was 1908. As a result, I live in a state of optimistic, “maybe next year” anticipation. I believe being a Cub fan and being a Christian are closely related because they are both subject to persecution and both are awaiting with great expectation a “glorious appearing”. Christians await the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Cub fans await a World Series appearance.

Growing up a Cub fan there was one player who became my hero. His name was Ernie Banks. He played for the Cubs from 1954-1971, breaking the color barrier in Chicago after playing for the Kansas City Monarchs in the old Negro League. Banks hit 512 homers and was named the Most Valuable Player in the National League in 1958 and1959, all while playing on the last place team!

Ernie Banks was a great player, elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. But what made Ernie Banks my hero was not his prowess on the field, but his attitude off of it. Every year he would optimistically predict, something like, “The Cubs are going to shine in 69” or “The Cubs will be heavenly in 1970”. Every game day, when asked by reporters what he thought about the teams prospects, Ernie would respond, “Lets Play Two!”

Even in the cellar of the National League playing nothing but day games in the sweltering heat of August, optimistic Ernie wanted to play a doubleheader. Ernie Banks never got to a World Series but his attitude remained eternally optimistic earning him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award an American citizen can receive. During his Hall of Fame acceptance speech He thanked God for the talent he was given, his family for the support they showed him and to the organization and teammates who gave him the opportunity to succeed. That is the proper order of things. Seeing Ernie’s love and positive attitude was great role model for me as I grew up. Ernie Banks my hero passed away this last weekend at 83.

I have difficulty finding heroes in the sports pages today but I know I can always find them in the Bible’s pages. Throughout the scriptures we are introduced to dozens of heroic characters.

In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews some fifteen heroes, men and women of the Old Testament are listed as being exemplary in their faith. A lineup of Biblical greats like Abraham, Moses, David, and the Jericho prostitute Rahab are forever remembered in a Hall of Fame like gallery for us to look up to and emulate with our lives. These heroes of the faith displayed characteristics of courage, perseverance, sacrifice and with great faith in God who wrote His story on their hearts and lives. Who are your heroes of the faith?

Your pastor and partner in ministry,

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