Baseball, Football, and the Countdown to Eternity


Last week the baseball team where I teach made school history. Without previously having won so much as a regular season district championship, they won the district, region, and substate tournaments. Our guys made it all the way to the State Finals before finishing second and rushing home so the five seniors could graduate, wearing their uniforms under their graduation robes. It was a lifetime memory that I will hold dear and I know they will never forget.

In the semi-final game, we were up by several runs, and the visiting team was up to bat in the top of the 7th, the final inning in high school baseball. As our pitcher was throwing his warm up pitches, the PA guy began blaring the 1986 song “Final Countdown” by Europe. Our retro cool students all sang along in the stands and reminded us “old folks” that the song was older than they are.

We excitedly counted down the final three outs that put us in the State Finals.

GREAT memories. GREAT reason to have a countdown.

Yesterday morning I was watching SportsCenter while eating breakfast, and there was a segment discussing the fact that we have hit a key countdown:

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College football season. GREAT reason to count down.

The game that claims to have overtaken baseball as America’s Pastime is only 100 days away. Only. That’s almost one third of the year. But we SO love football, we start counting down the days to the first game at 100.

I can’t say much. I start the countdown to Spring Training the Monday after the Super Bowl. Baseball and football are in a constant battle for the title of First Love in my sports heart. As a society, we LOVE sports, and we love counting down to the beginning of each season, whichever season it may be.

But as I was running later, a thought occurred to me: What if we counted down to our step out of time and into eternity with as much fervor and excitement as we counted down to the beginning of sports seasons?

“But Bekah,” you say, “No one knows when He will return. Besides, we’ve been waiting two thousand years. No one can live their entire life as if Jesus was coming back tomorrow.”

To this, it would reply, “True, but not really.”

This is one of those Both/And situations, the beautiful tension of Christian faith.

Do we, as the Bride of Christ, anxiously await the return of the Bridegroom?

YES, just as the Church has done for 2,000+ years.

In His grace, He delays His return for His Bride, desiring that none should perish.

But in His mercy, He calls His children Home to be with Him every single day.

Our lives are a vapor, according to James, and while the Church has been in a countdown for over two millennia, we as individuals are not guaranteed our next breath.

So how do we live a life with the realization that each day could be our last without becoming focused on death?

How do we live with our mortality in mind without becoming useless because of the morbidity of the thought?

Paul addresses this very question in 1 Thessalonians 4. He begins this section of his letter talking about the daily walk of the Christian. He urges the Thessalonians to grow in the Word, to be sanctified, pure, holy, and to love one another. Those things will only happen in that order. The more we know, the more we grow, change, desire to be like Christ, and show His love to others.

What’s interesting is that Paul follows up that section reminding the believers of the hope they have in eternity. It’s as if he’s answering the question he knows they’re going to ask: “Why all the hard work? What’s the end goal?”

He gives his readers hope for this life with a reminder of the afterlife. We live a life seeking Christ, living each day as if it is our last, facing struggles and joys, persecutions and victories, so that we are as prepared as possible for our step out of this life and into eternity.

Paul, when facing his own mortality and impending step into eternity declared he had finished the race and kept the faith (2 Tim). He believed he had lived his life every day as if it was his last.

So as we live this life abundantly, as we celebrate victories, count down to favorite sporting seasons, welcome new lives into this world and remember those who have gone before us, let’s spur one another on to love and good deeds (Heb 10), remembering that both as Bride and as child, each day we are in a countdown, each day we are one day closer to the coming of our entrance into eternity.

How will you commit to live your countdown?

All Alone?


It’s not often that I go looking for inspiration in 90’s Christian rap music. Ok, I don’t think it’s ever actually happened. But when you put the iPod on shuffle, you just never know what’s going fill your ears. This is what I got this morning from GRITS:

A servant of God must stand so…so very much alone that he never realizes he is alone. In the early stages of Christian life disappointments will come, people who used to be lights will flicker out, and those who used to stand with us will turn away. We have to get so used to it that we will not even realize we are standing alone. Paul said, “No one stood with me, but all forsook me…but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” We must build our faith, not on fading lights, but on the light that never fails. When important individuals go away we are sad until we see that they are meant to go. ‘Til there’s only one thing left for us to do: to look at the face of God for ourselves.

It’s from their 1999 album Grammatical Revolution. And it got me thinking. What do we do when we get to those points in life in which it feels like we have been completely abandoned?

Sounds like the Apostle Paul knew what that was like. Not too many people are willing to stick around when their ministry’s leader is in jail.

Paul understood abandonment.

Jesus knew what abandonment was like. He was abandoned on the cross, bearing the burden of our sin. Not too many people are willing to stick around when their leader is being executed.

Jesus understood abandonment.

There are times when we are abandoned by all the people we know. Whether by choice or by circumstance, we find that those we tend to lean on in hard times are unavailable. When we physically lean and the thing we expect to be there is not, gravity tends to drag us to the ground. The same thing can happen if we rely on people, things, habits, places to catch our fall in hard times.

That’s what I love about the reminder in that last line of “Count Bass D (A Reading From)”: …we are sad until we see that they are meant to go. ‘Til there’s only one thing left for us to do: to look at the face of God for ourselves.

Often when we look for support, encouragement, backup in the battle, we look to our right and to our left only. We want our fellow soldiers by our side, and when we find them missing, we are confused, hurt.

But in those times, we must remember the promise given in Isaiah 52:12: For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

We are never alone. It may seem that we are fighting the battle alone because we feel we have little or no human support. But we have a God outside of time that goes before us, straightening and smoothing our path while still standing behind us, guarding our back in the heat of battle.

David Crowder Band sings “Only You”, a song written from the perspective of realizing and appreciating the experience of learning that He is all we need in the heat of battle:

Take my heart, I lay it down
At the feet of You who’s crowned
And take my life, I’m letting go
I lift it up, to You who’s throned

Chorus
And I will worship you, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You, Lord

Take my fret, take my fear
All I have I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything

And it’s just You and me here now
Only You and me here now

You should see the view
When it’s only You

Have you ever seen the view, when it’s just you and the Lord? Or do you crowd your view with people, places, things? God has recently stripped some false supports from my life and shown me that, while painful, the result is beautiful– the opportunity to see Him and only Him.

Try it sometime; the view is spectacular.