I cried last week…literally, on two unrelated and really not comparable occasions. The first was the indescribable experience of holding in my arms another precious newborn granddaughter. Yes, we welcomed Emmeline “Emmie” Paige Ross into our lives. She had already captured our hearts nine months earlier! Bonnie and Tom Ross share in our joy as grandparents. Oh yeah, that’s right, the parents are Chase and Amber Ross, lest I forget to mention them. The joy of holding the newborn of one of your own children does not eclipse the joy of holding your own newborn, but it takes it even deeper, to an overwhelming sense of God’s grace and goodness. I think that is what the psalmist knew when he wrote of the blessing of “living to see your children’s children.” (Psalm 128:6). Those were tears of overwhelming gratitude for the gift of life…and God’s undeserved goodness!!
The second time was a very different occasion, much less weighty, but emotional nonetheless. Let me explain. “Today we are all Yankee fans!” This was my text last week to two friends, die hard Yankee fans, on the day of Yankee closer, Mariano “Mo” Rivera’s, last pitching appearance at Yankee Stadium. You do not need to have one ounce of interest in baseball or one iota of knowledge about the game – or even LIKE the Yankees – to appreciate what took place. Briefly, Mariano, 43 years old, has been the best closer (ninth inning pitcher) in baseball for more than a decade. With two outs, not the manager, but two of his long-time teammates (Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter) came out of the dugout to take him out of the game and give Yankee fans an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for this man’s accomplishments. What happened next was why I enjoy sports. Mariano was so overcome that he simply buried his head in the shoulder of his teammate and friend, Andy, and sobbed unashamedly…before receiving a ten minute ovation from teammates and fans.
Why would a grown man tear up watching (admit it, many of you did too)? For me, it was a touching scene of long-time friendship… of loyalty… of respect and honor… of a career and life of class, dignity, and excellence rather than trash talk and boorish behavior. It was a poignant reminder for me that in the end, it is not primarily about what we have accomplished, but it is about who we are and those we have influenced for Christ. It is not about making a name for ourselves, but living for the One Whose name is “above every name.” For Mariano, baseball was not an end in itself, but was a means to a greater end…to have a platform to honor Jesus Christ. In Mariano’s words, “I have money and fame and am I better than you? No! My key is trying to always be lower than the rest. I lower myself because when I lower myself to others, I’m always trying to elevate my teammates.” Jesus said the path to greatness is the road of servanthood. Thank you, Mariano, for bringing class – and Christlikeness – to the mound every time you pitched… and even more so, off the mound!
So… a newborn baby and a retiring pitcher – very different – but BOTH reflections of the same glorious and gracious God that cause us to praise HIM!
Well, admittedly, I cried a third time – or at least FELT like it – but that was over a hot water heater that blew and flooded the basement! Now… would someone please pass the tissues?
In His lavish GRACE,