The Good Word  


Outta the park!
May 2000

The crack of the bat sends the small white, stitched orb over the wall and well into the stadium seats beyond center field.  Yep.  It's a homer.  Another baseball knocked outta the park.  And now begins one of the joys of the sport: the leisurely rounding of the bases by the hero of the moment.  No strain now.  The score is sure.  Now is the time for savoring triumph.

Think about that trip around the bases.  So very different than many another trip . . . the singles, the doubles, the stolen bases.  Hard fought advancement full of tension and anxiety.  The prospect of each advance balanced by the possibility of failure.

But not so with the home run!  For this event the rounding of the bases is pure pleasure and celebration.  For a moment, put yourself into the mind of the triumphant batter . . .

How can we capture the essence of the homer for ourselves?  What value for us, the apparent spectators/fans.  We will consider here two important applications.

As a foundation, it is important to note that the joy of the homer and the rounding of the bases is grounded in assurance.  Assurance, confidence, that the score is a done deal.  It is a done deal because the event (the homer) is in the past, it is history.  History is sure because it is a done deal, signed sealed and delivered.  You can't change it.

Outta the Park:  It's Good News!

Our first application of "homer" philosophy is similarly grounded in history.  This is the gospel, the good news that we have spiritually triumphed.

In the ball game of life, sometimes we struggle in our relationship with God.  Maybe we sometimes hit a single, a double or steal a base.  But as often as not we sense that we have once again struck out.  And so our spiritual life is full of tension and anxiety.  Where is the homer?

The truth is that we must look to another player on our team for that magnificent play.  You know, the team scores, the team wins the game, not this or that player.  You don't play very well?  So what!  You have a team mate who knocked the ball out of the park 2000 years ago.  The life and person of Jesus meet all the requirements of a spiritual "homer."

It is now our privilege to run the bases for his homer.  Hey, get involved with the celebratory trot around the bases.  The rules require the rounding of the bases.  But never mind if you trip or stumble.  We'll wait for you to finish your lap.  All heaven is cheering you on.  (Mind if a few of us join you in the jog?)

This is the essence of the joy and freedom of the Christian life.  Not a struggling for achievement but a celebration of the achievement of another.  For you, it's outta the park.  Enjoy the run.

Outta the Park:  For the Rest of Your Life!

We do not want to detract from the primacy of this first celebration by asking, is it possible to extend this celebration to everyday achievement in the hurly burly of life?  That is, outside the spiritual realm is it possible to have assurance and celebration in your family, career and other facets of life that are important to you?

Your spiritual celebration can be grounded in the historical reality of the life and performance of Jesus.  But what can provide a grounding for this other celebration?  It is your dreams and goals for the future.  That's right.  Not only your past is vouchsafed by the gospel, but your future, too.

Maybe the assurance is on a little different level, but many can testify that your settled decision about what you will be and who you will become (You have made decisions about this, haven't you???) gives the future a certainty that can rival the past.  This short essay is inadequate to argue this point.  But the point is introduced to assert that not just your spiritual life should be one of celebration.

One writer asks the question, "What plans would you be making if you knew you could not fail?"  Think about it: if you knew you could not fail, would it be OK to celebrate the future, something that has not yet happened?  Many a struggling student has seen (in their mind's eye) their graduation many, many times before it became a reality.  Many an Olympian has seen themselves in the moment of triumph, many, many times before it became a reality.

So it is with confidence that we urge upon you the pleasure of celebration.  First, a spiritual life of celebration of the finished work of the Christ.  And then, secondly, an everyday life of celebration of the finished work that you are even now anticipating.  Expect the best!

Your friend, Herb Sorensen