While Wade was playing professional baseball in the Detroit organization, it was common for fans to ask, “Who’s your Tiger?” Meaning, who is your favorite player? With whom do you most identify or admire?
I believe it’s human nature for us to want to identify with characters who are larger than life. I find myself relating to many individuals in the Bible. I love how the stories are so intriguing and (some) very relatable. I always see myself as Martha telling her sister to get her lil’ booty into gear, and start cleaning up the house for Jesus! I’ve heard other people, particularly converts, relate to Paul. Others humbly see themselves as sweet Peter, who is full of faith until the waters of life start to get rough. The list goes on and on.
I consider myself new to the “churched” group, though I’ve been a Bible-Belter most of my life. Even still, I have yet to hear of anyone relating themselves to the Pharisees who persecuted Christ. Who would do that, right?
The Pharisees knew the scriptures. They prayed. They fasted. By all humanly religious standards, they thought they were prepared for The One of whom the prophets spoke… the Messiah. But, Jesus came in an unexpected way…. and they missed it.
Do you know the scriptures, participate in the sacraments, pray, and fast, and assume you are ready and waiting for an answered prayer? I have done that. I’ve also learned that God’s plan is infinitely greater than ours, and that He answers prayers in bold and beautiful ways. His answers are always in love, and we need only to trust in His promises.
During Wade’s last at bat as a professional player, I sat in prayer to Almighty God with silent tears streaming down my face. I was holding our sweet, oblivious toddler and 7-months pregnant with our second. That season had been long and full of struggles. One particularly memorable bad-hop made Wade declare to me that he was the “Job of Baseball,” ;).
“Make this one really count, God. Give him strength. Hold him up.” He sailed that first pitch about 400 feet, maybe even past where I had parked our already packed-up car… FOUL. Strike one. I clutched my little one tightly and sobbed into his shirt as Wade singled on a ball past the second basemen. It wasn’t the ending I had imagined for him, but now I know that moment wasn’t an ending at all—it was just the closing of a precious, fun chapter.
As a nurse in the emergency department and surgery, I’ve been around people during their very worst days. Often, I saw them pray for a miracle healing—of which I saw many—but I also saw what many people would deem “unanswered” prayers. Sometimes while in these desperate moments, it’s difficult for patients and on-lookers to see how suffering can be perceived as a blessing. When we consider Christ’s crucifixion and unite it with our own pain, God’s grace abounds. Like a Pharisee, I have expected a warrior king to come and crush cancer and other illnesses; when in fact, He came as a poor baby. He answered the people’s prayers differently than they expected—and it was perfect.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 Yet just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
11 So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
but shall do what pleases me,
achieving the end for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:8-11 (NABRE)
When our hearts are poured out, all of the words uttered upon our knees don’t fall upon a sleeping god. He hears those prayers. He is extravagantly, perfectly answering every single one of them.
The Greatest Story Ever Told has already been written… the story of salvation… the story of Jesus Christ. I love a good, happy ending—and Christ assures us victory, wholeness, and hope. He’s more than “your Tiger”—he’s the Lion and the Lamb. Trust His merciful love. Don’t miss His glory this side of Heaven!
Thy will be done.