World Series or a Modern Day Parable?
I love October!
It isn’t so much the leaves turning and the weather getting cooler, it’s Baseball Playoff Time!
I don’t have time during the season to watch baseball games on television, but when the calendar turns to October, I know that I will find myself glued to the games, rooting for the team closest to my heart who finds themselves privileged to participate in the playoffs!
This year was particularly gripping...and it wasn’t only because we may have watched the greatest pitcher we’ve ever seen: Madison Baumgartner.
Jesus Speaking to us Through Sports
Rather, it was because I believe Jesus was speaking to us in the context of our culture, in the language we speak, in the passions we carry: Sports!
I wrote about the 2014 Super Bowl in my post, Why Not You, where David went up against Goliath, and won!
So, I wasn’t too surprised when I heard Jesus whisper to me during the wildcard playoff game between the Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals. It was a crazy game where the Royals were down four runs in the 7th and came back to win it in 12 innings, mostly by stealing 7 bases to put themselves in scoring position.
His message, “This year is the World Series of the Wildcard Teams--the Royals are going to play the Giants and they are going to slay them.”
I wasn’t surprised Jesus wanted to speak to us through sports again in 2014, but I was surprised to hear he was rooting for the Royals. They hadn’t even been to the playoffs since 1985….nobody was talking about them.
And, quite frankly, the Giants hadn’t been too good through the regular season either…
But, when the Royals went into the ALDS and played the hottest team in baseball, the California Angels, I heard the Lord whisper again, “The Royals are going to sweep this series.” And, they did. It took some extra innings to accomplish it, but they swept them.
The Lord spoke again when they started to play the Baltimore Orioles for the American League Division. They would sweep this series, and go on to play the Giants in the World Series. They would play 7 games, their backs would be to the wall, but they would pull it out to slay the Giants.
Spiritual Royals and Giants
You might ask, “why does this matter?”
Think about it.
The Royals slay the Giants. Romans 8:16-17 tells us “Because we are God’s adopted children, we are also his heirs.”
We are heirs to the King of the Universe, which makes US the Royals. I just read in USA Today that as we head into the election, ⅔ of people believe the US faces more challenges than usual, one in four called them the “biggest problems of their lifetime.” (USA Today, Oct 31-Nov 2, 2014).
Hence, we are facing some pretty big Giants in our lives, in our country, and more importantly, throughout the world.
It’s time God’s beloved children rise up into our “Royal” identity and slay the Giants in the land who are lying, stealing, killing and destroying. (Please hear that I am not calling the San Francisco Giants evil--it is their name 'the Giants' that Jesus chose to use in his baseball parable--I am sure Jesus loves the Giants as much as their San Francisco fans!)
So, most of you reading this post know how the 7th game of the World Series went.
The Giants were on top, 3-2, when Madison Baumgartner came in as a relief pitcher. The Royals also had a relief pitcher, Davis, who was relentless, so the bats went silent on both teams into the 9th inning.
It was the bottom of the 9th as the Royals came up to bat. My heart was pounding! I was waiting for the moment when they would have 2 outs and 2 strikes, and would send the ball hurling into the outfield as they tied the game.
Alex Gordon came to the plate. He hadn’t been hitting well throughout the series. He swung hard and out went the ball. He got to third and he was waved down to stop. I agonized, he was just one base away from the important tie needed to take the game into extra innings.
The catcher came to the plate (who, interestingly, got hit in the leg by Baumgartner earlier in the game). He went to two strikes...as my heart pounded and my spirit prayed. This is the moment when the Royals fully slay the Giants.
Gordon swung and the ball popped up. SF Giants catcher Pavlo Sandoval ran out and caught it as he fell joyfully to the ground in victory.
My head and my heart went into unbelief. Everything came to pass exactly as the Lord had showed me, except the last 60 seconds of the game.
The Royals had lost--with one man stranded on third. It could not have been any closer.
I’ve learned enough in my faith when something comes so close, but doesn’t have the exact outcome I expected, there is an even deeper lesson for us if we are willing to take the time to discern it.
The Real Meaning
So, after I settled down, (which took awhile!), I began to ask the Lord, “What did I miss? What do you want to show your people?”
He reminded me about Ezekiel 37. This passage is entitled “The Dry Bones.”
It’s where the Lord took Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones and asked him to prophesy over them. As Ezekiel spoke exactly what the Lord told him to say, the dry bones became a living, breathing army which rose up to bring people home to their own land.
The Lord is looking for Ezekiels to rise up in this season to partner with the Lord to see the valley of dry bones throughout the world, and even in our Christian faith. He wants us to speak out his heart, to point people to what he is doing, to contextualize what he is saying--even in modern day parables, such as World Series, so the dry bones all around us, even within us, become living, breathing, people once again.
Here’s my confession: “I didn’t make the Lord’s desire for the Royals to slay the Giants public because deep down I didn’t want to make a prophecy that didn’t come true.”
But, here’s what I wonder.
What if I had been willing to risk being wrong and if I had spoken it publicly?Would the outcome have been different?
We know God could have spoken to the dry bones and they would have come to life.
But, he didn’t.
He wants to partner with his beloved children so he invited Ezekiel to the valley of the dry bones and showed him the landscape. He was really clear in his message on what Ezekiel was to say.
When Ezekiel spoke it out, life happened.
I believe we are in a season where we, as the Royal Heirs to the King of the Universe, are being invited into a partnership beyond what we could have ever imagined.
The question is, are we willing to accept the invitation?
Are You Willing?
I am taking the plunge and jumping in on this blog post.
I am declaring my willingness to explore the valley of dry bones and my willingness to speak what he asks me to speak….
- even if sometimes I might get it wrong
- even if I am misunderstood, and,
- even if I experience rejection, especially from the religious community.
Are you willing to step into the season as well?
We are being invited into something new as we rise up in our identity as beloved royal heirs...let’s not let our fear of the Giants in the land keep us from playing in the World Series Game of Faith as fearlessly as the Kansas City Royals faced the San Francisco Giants in the unforgettable 7 game 2014 World Series!