Confession time: I don’t know the words to the Cubs song. I can barely remember the chorus. I grew up watching the Cincinnati Reds back in the Pete Rose days, I played Little League before they really let girls join, my little brother and I spent hours playing catch during hot summer evenings. Yet I have fallen away from the sport, too much life, I have found my excitement elsewhere. I am not one of the faithful.
Chef took me to a Cubs game this season, they lost. The star pitcher was taking a day off, the back up players were taking over. The experience was still awesome, the crowd was loud and wearing various hats and shirts supporting their Cubs. They sang the song. They knew the words. They still believed, hoped, held onto the promise they saw in these young men. I loved being part of the group but knew I was a pretender. What would it be like to really belong? I left the game and didn’t consider it any further. I wasn’t moved to join, I didn’t catch the spark.
Chef and I made the 3 hour trip to Chicago to revel with 5 million others, to celebrate the greatest win for a team well loved among people who have waited and believed this day would come. They all knew the song. “Hey Chicago, what do you say, Cubbies gonna win today.” I could hear it breaking out spontaneously all around, on the train, in groups of people on top of bus stop shelters, in trees. I couldn’t help thinking of Zacchaeus who climbed that fig tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus. (Luke 19:4) It was incredible to witness. I was in it but knew I didn’t really belong. I was not one of the faithful. I didn’t watch all of the games of the World Series, I even went to bed during the last game. I did get back up towards the end, more to support my Chef than out of team unity. Yesterday I felt jealous, green with envy in a sea of blue. I couldn’t claim the full joy when I never experienced the agony of losing years, suffered the taunts from others who backed successful teams, sang about Cubbies winning only to experience another loss. I just didn’t put in the work, never gave it my heart and soul. I was an outsider.
As we moved through the crowds, I realized this is what it feels like to be a believer in Christ. We wait, trusting in the promises of that day when He will come again. We suffer setbacks, terrible seasons that make us question our allegiance. We are persecuted by others who think our confidence is misplaced, we are tempted by teams who are showing wins now. Yet we hold strong, we keep singing our songs. We meet up regularly to discuss our standings, we confess our doubts and encourage each other to keep strong in the faith, to remember that our team will eventually win. Just as I didn’t follow the Cubs religiously, I have dipped in and out of church throughout my life but have not fully abandoned my faith in God, the ultimate coach. Fortunately this team is forgiving, welcoming regardless of any history of allegiance. They welcome new fans without mocking them as fair-weather joiners. They make room in the “bleachers” and offer snacks. God’s team is not made up of one color, one uniform. Young and old are welcomed, people die before seeing the big win, Jesus coming again. Yet we hold on. We keep singing.
I know the promises He has given are true, I just know. I can wait, I believe just like those Cubs fans trusted that one day they would fill the streets of the city and glory in the team that fulfilled all the hopes of an entire generation. I am not going to be an outsider for God’s big parade. Participating in His work to bring in others who can claim the same is what He has asked of His team. Yesterday saw the 7th largest gathering of people in human history. I was one of those people. Next time, when God brings His son back to us, I want to know I belong and have that feeling I witnessed yesterday. Surely the crowd will be even larger but I know first-hand it feels so much sweeter to have been involved all along. I will sing loudly, I will know all of the words. I am already a fan.