But the game was at the end of the season after the Rays’ play-off hopes were gone. At first you would think it wouldn’t be much of a game, but you would be wrong. Young players who had been called up from farm teams for the expanded September rosters were playing for a place on the major league team next season. Older players were playing to show their worth, either for a contract renewal or for another team to show some interest in a trade. Established players were playing for personal records—a better ERA, consecutive years with a certain number of home runs and RBIs. I knew it would still be a game worth watching. No one would be “phoning it in.”
But imagine there was nothing left to play for. Imagine they were just playing out the season because it was a contract requirement. How many home runs would you expect? How many wins? And how many fans would bother to show up at all?
Some of us play at the game of life like that. We look at our meager accomplishments, at the few years we have left, and decide there is nothing worth living for, nothing worth working for, nothing to look forward to but day after day of waking up to uselessness until one morning you don’t wake up at all. And as far as heaven goes? We seem to hope we have enough warning before death to shoot off a last prayer for forgiveness because surely that’s the only “hope” we have.
Too many of us have bought into the world’s idea of hope—something insecure, uncertain, and probably not going to happen at all. Go out tomorrow and plant a seed. Now read 1 Cor 9:10: the plowman plows in hope. What do you think is going to happen to that seed you planted? You “hope” it will grow. If a farmer hoped the way most of us hope, he would never plant in the first place. “Hope” in the Bible means something is going to happen, and you are simply waiting for it, waiting like someone standing at an established bus stop at the established time, not someone who just guessed what route the bus takes and which corner it might stop at and when, and “hoping” you guessed correctly.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance…for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations who builder and designer is God…these all died not having received the promises but having seen and greeted them from afar, Heb 11:8,10,13. Could wealthy Abraham have given up a comfortable home to live in tents the last half of his life, could he have stood on that mountain ready to sacrifice his son if he had just crossed his fingers and “hoped” he had a future beyond this life? No, he had Biblical hope. He knew he had a reward waiting.
And so do you—something even better than moving up from Double A, or even Triple A, to a permanent place on the roster of a major league team, and something a whole lot more certain—even if your batting average isn’t quite as high as the next guy’s, even if all they can count on you for is a sac-fly every so often instead of a grand slam. You still have something to play for, a place “prepared from the foundation of the world,” one that will be there no matter who wins the pennant.
And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises, Heb 6:11-12.