Friday, October 31, 2014

Midnight-hour Miracles

My sports loyalties have always been determined by factors other than the skill of the players on the team. The color of the uniform, the city in which they play, even the font of the numbers on the jerseys have all been known to sway my affections one way or another. Having decided on this particular evening to watch the one-game baseball division playoff between Kansas City and Oakland, it was a selfie my son posted on Instagram of himself in a hometown t-shirt that suddenly had me bleeding Royal blue.

I followed the game for awhile, but when the score was lopsided in favor of the Oakland Athletics after the sixth inning, I willingly followed my husband to bed. As I plugged in my phone and set my alarm, I said to him, “Wouldn't it be great, though, to wake up in the morning and see that the Royals had come back and won?” We smiled at the thought as we let sleep overtake us.

And it was morning - even if just the wee hours – when our phones started buzzing and lighting up like crazy. Positioned together near the head of the bed, the tandem twitter notifications alerted us to the fact that one of our sons was still very much awake and excited about something. Normally we roll over and catch up on the news in the morning. But mother instincts die hard, and knowing that another one of my boys was driving home from a distant state that night, I picked up my phone and gave it a look, just to make sure all was okay.

To my surprise, I discovered that Kansas City had indeed come back and had tied the game up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning! Their desperate do-or-die efforts had excited loyal Royal fans everywhere, all of whom it seemed were tweeting the news like crazy as the game moved into extra innings. Delighted myself, I mentally wished them well and set the phone down to go back to sleep.

That turned out to be an impossible task. The excitement proved to be contagious, and my mind simply refused to let go of the game. So I picked up the phone again, clicked on the SportsCenter app, and started following the action again, pitch by pitch. Trying to keep my growing exhilaration as well as the glow from my phone from disturbing my husband's repose, my belief in the possibility of a comeback win grew with each passing moment. When the seemingly impossible happened and the Royals took the game in the bottom of the twelfth inning, I was screaming in my spirit, if not out loud, rejoicing with Kansas City fans everywhere, just as if I hadn't turned the game off and given up hope for a victory a couple of hours earlier.

How many times have I done that before...not in baseball season, necessarily, but in any difficult season, when the odds of victory in a situation were stacked against me? How often have I put my hopes to bed and resigned my expectations of victory to nothing more than just a delightful dream, and nothing more? Sadly, I've done it more times than I care to count.

The next morning I told my son how his excited tweets had awakened me in the night and led me to tune in to the end of the game. He immediately apologized for disturbing me, but I told him how thankful I was that I hadn't missed that moment, but was alerted instead to the fact that something exciting was happening, and how thrilled I was to feel a part of the joy that abounded in his hometown, when the game was over.

Don't we need that? Don't we need to be disturbed in the middle of our spiritual slumber to the fact that God is awake and moving and doing incredible things on behalf of those who believe? I want to be notified while there's still time to be a part of the rejoicing when God wins, as surely He will, despite how it looks in the dark of night. As a child of the King, I long to be a loyal believe in the One who determines the outcome despite the circumstances surrounding me. I want to hold on to my belief in victory even when defeat seems certain. I want to expect late-inning comebacks and midnight-hour miracles. Change me, Lord, from a fair-weather fan to a full-fledged believer, that I might be done with doubt forever.

You make my heart sing
You lift me on eagles wings
Just when I thought that my heart it would faint
You take the darkest night and turn it to shining light
Just when I thought that the night had won...”
(Laura Hackett “You Satisfy My Soul”)
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