Mitch Elliott looked pretty in pink when I stopped to
talk to him. That Sunday afternoon included a lot of firsts.
My first visit to Warner Park, home of the Madison Mallards (Doesn’t that name send a chill down your spine? Scary! Yeah, right.). His first day as a Mallard (Oh, the terror).
The first signature on my game day ticket (A tradition I maintain when attending a baseball game).
Our first meeting (but not our last).
Mitch grinned … and grinned … and grinned (I’d grin too if I received a call to play in one of the two premier summer leagues for college players).
His eyes sparkled. His speech hurried along with excitement. His hand went out to every passerby who extended a pen, a cap, a bat, a ball, or, like me, a ticket in his direction.
… and …
He loved being at Warner Park.
He loved being a Mallard (shiver).
He loved the game.
He loved the team.
He loved the fans.
He loved it all.
Even if he did look pretty in pink (I’ll explain later).*
His excitement at the ballpark reminded me of a much younger version of me, the high school junior who “felt my heart strangely warmed” by God’s love.
In my first days in the faith …
I loved the Lord.
I loved the church.
I loved the Bible.
I loved it all.
My whole being—whether the smile on my face, the bounce to my step, or the hurried excitement in my speech—spoke of the thrill of Jesus Christ in me.
After seeing Mitch’s excitement that day, I thought about my life. When did my faith become like a job that sucked? When did my love for Jesus start to be a burden rather than a blessing? When did rules-keeping replace relationship?
In January 1972 (yes, I know; that is a long time ago), Christ entered my heart. In that moment, I got both excited and serious about my faith. Somewhere along the way, I dropped the excitement and simply got serious.
But often enough.
When asked what she needed, Wosne said, “Nothing. Nothing at all. I have everything I need. I am the happiest woman in the world.” (read entire story here)
Recently I heard Joseph Lieungh interviewed on At Issue With Ben Merens. He told about a time when he was working long, hard hours. He asked an out-of-work neighbor if he was happy. “I’m happy because I’ve got everything I want. Coffee in the morning, smokes in the afternoon, and beer in the evening.”
I know the aim of life isn’t simply to be happy, but if an unemployed man can be happy with coffee, smokes, and beer, then I should be able to find joy in the Lord.
And I do when …
I remember the Lord loves me even when I’m far from loveable. I don’t earn His love. He offers it. I receive it.
I also find joy when …
I dance, skip, act goofy, or sing out loud. Having a dog as a dance partner helps. Penny, tail wagging, feeds off my excitement and I feed off hers.
I find joy when …
I lie on my back and just look up at the sky. I rediscovered this small pleasure by accident while walking the dog.
My aforementioned dancing partner scampered into the underbrush and wouldn’t come when called. I know she’s comfortable with exploring as long as she can see me.
Instead of wasting my commands, I decided to lie on my back and wait out of sight. Eventually she trotted up and sniffed my face, but during the wait, I relaxed and watched the clouds drift by. I found joy in the moment and thanked God.
I’m curious. What about you? Has your faith journey started to feel a lot like a job that sucks? What small pleasure do you need to rediscover? What, of all God’s wondrous gifts, makes your heart dance with joy?
*The first time I met Mitch Elliot was on Marshfield Clinic Susan G. Komen for the Cure Night. He and his Mallard teammates wore pink uniforms.
Community involves investment as noted in The Next Twelve‘s “The Worst Gift”
Jon Acuff writes about “The Worst Tool for Evangelism” at Stuff Christians Like
Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes
Two men. Two eternal destinies.
One common hope.
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