I was at a gathering of pastors I go to every other week on Thursday morning. I happened to sit down next to a fellow who is a prison chaplain. About half-way through the meeting he holds up these two tickets and says, "anyone want these? There's for the last game of the season." I immediately held up my hand and said, "I'll take them!" I didn't even give a thought to the possibility than anyone else in the group might want these tickets.
There they were in my hot little hand. I couldn't believe it! After all, hadn't I prayed back in the spring that God would give Jama and me the opportunity to go to Fenway sometime this season? In fact, we had nearly bought a couple of tickets on Ebay earlier this summer because we were getting tired of waiting. I had negotiated the price and was all ready to send the $200 off when the economic realities of our life got to Jama and her wisdom prevailed. Still, we both really, really, really wanted to go to a game this season.
After I had secured the tickets I immediately felt guilty because I saw what looked like disappointment on the face of one of my good friends at the meeting. I even apologized afterward (didn't offer him the tickets though). Back in my car, after the meeting was over, I suddenly started to get excited. I called my best friend Chris, who is coming up Friday. I wanted to make sure he was planning on leaving before Saturday night. After all, friendship only goes just so far: this is the RED SOX.
The next thing I had to do was run over to the local Walmart for something. As I was walking out of the store, the thought of those Ebay tickets suddenly got hold of me and I seriously gave consideration to seeing how much I could sell them for. I love the Red Sox and would certainly be watching as Beckett takes the mound on Saturday night... but having a couple of hundred extra dollars in my pocket sounded pretty good too. But no! These are tickets to Fenway. These are RED SOX tickets. They're worth more than the cash.
I started obsessively calling Jama. I couldn't WAIT to tell her we got these tickets. But then my heart sank: Jama is going to Cape Cod this weekend and isn't planning on coming back until Sunday. Maybe she'd shorten her weekend away to come to the game. She's just as rabid of a Sox fan as I am. If she doesn't come back for the game, do I still go without her? Of course! This is the RED SOX... going is more important than who you go with -- even your wife.
Finally I checked weather.com to see what the prediction was for the game. It doesn't look good. 60% chance of showers at game time. To what lengths will I go to get to see this game? This is a Saturday night. If there's a rain delay I could end up getting back to Northwood in the middle of the night. Would I still go down even if the weather is threatening? Would I cancel my plans for Sunday afternoon if the game is postponed? Yes... yes... YES! This is more important than sleep. This is more important than driving in the rain (twice. You have to go on Saturday because they probably won't call the game off until just around game time). This is more important than ANYTHING else I might choose to do with this time.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:44-46)
Wouldn't it be great if I valued eternal life with Christ as highly as I value going to a Sox game? Knowing him IS more important than marriage, friendship, plans, career, ministry and all the rest. The problem in my relationship with Christ has always been that I value the tickets more than the person the tickets give me access to. I have the back-stage pass, if you will, to the God of the Universe in my back pocket. And these aren't bleacher seats either. These are front-row center seats. And what do I do? I focus on how I'm getting there, who I'm going with, what the weather will be like and will I be comfortable on the way.
But this is all metaphor. Yea, the incident made me realize some things about faith. But don't get me wrong... I'm still going to see the Red Sox on Saturday night.