Thursday, January 11, 2007

Can You Handle the Noise? Part 1

I must make a confession before I get too far into this post: I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. I love baseball, and the Cardinals have been my team since I was two years old. All fans of other teams, especially the Cubs, I apologize. Hang with me as we break this story down. You can see the pictures I took as a kid in various Cardinal uniforms. I was looking good! If you are a sports fan, you might have heard the Cardinals won their tenth World Series this year…..needless to say, I was pumped!

After the hoopla and the initial euphoria of the World Series win had passed, I heard a story about an old family friend’s opportunity to be at Game 5 win the Cardinals clinched the title. I will call him Fred (all names have been changed to protect the innocent). My mom told me the story…I was excited to hear an eyewitness account of the win and to relive those feelings again. Before we go any farther along in this story, I want to give you a bit of background info about Fred. He is by all accounts one of the biggest Cardinal fans in the Western hemisphere. He has an office that is decked out with Cardinals gear. He has signed pictures, gloves, chairs, bases, and all kinds of other memorabilia as well. He also attends fantasy camps that have Cardinal legends like Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, and others. He actually knows many of these guys personally, and they know him, too. His office is called the “Cardinal Museum” and that also serves as his e-mail address as well. This guy has got Cardinal fan imprinted on his DNA.

This World Series was plagued by rainouts, and Fred received his ticket from someone who had a ticket to a rained-out game and was unable to go to the make-up game the next night. Fred arranged to have the tickets held for him overnight and got his son to fly from Louisiana to meet him at Busch Stadium (also known as Baseball Heaven!). Fred drove six hours to be at the game; a game that would seal the Cardinals first World Series title in 24 years!! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that most Cardinal fans, including myself, would willingly lose a finger or toe to attend. I personally would have chosen my left little toe.

St. Louis is one of the purest baseball cities in America; they all take Cardinals baseball very seriously, and this was the biggest stage in big league baseball, the WORLD SERIES. Every one of these players had dreamed of playing in this game as a little kid, most of these fans had been waiting a long time to see the Cardinals win a title. Some, like me, had never seen the Cardinals win the big one in our lifetime. To add to the intensity, this was the inaugural season for the new Busch Stadium. All of these factors came together at once to create a perfect storm of baseball chaos! This crowd was LOUD, so loud that even the TV announcers commented on it and compared it to an NFL game held in a dome.

Fred and his son get to the game and are put right in the middle of the biggest party going on in America at the time. People were screaming, cheering, laughing, and chanting for the Cardinals. Everyone was on their feet while the game was being played. Fred was living the dream!! At least, you would think he was. For reasons that cannot be entirely explained by anyone, Fred was miserable!! The noise of the atmosphere reached such an intense level that Fred and his son chose to LEAVE THE GAME!! That is correct, a huge Cardinals fan chose to leave the stadium and missed out on an experience that was incredibly unique and could never be duplicated. I wonder how many people treat life the same way.

I want to ask all of you a simple question. Can YOU handle the noise? Life is so wonderful and unique, full of excitement and opportunity, but it can also be a huge struggle. Things do not always go as we plan, and sometimes things seem so intense and so confusing and so overwhelming that we think it would be better if we just GAVE UP. I want to encourage you to stay in the game. Do not quit. Don’t walk out and leave when things get messy. My friend Fred got into a situation that should have been an amazing time, but he let his circumstances affect his overall experience and he chose to walk out. In doing so, he gained comfort in the short term, but he lost out on seeing the victory. It is no different in life. We must all seek to overcome challenges with the help of God in our lives. Romans 8:28 says this, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God wants to take every experience in your life, even the worst ones, and use them to accomplish something amazing in your life. But you cannot quit and leave in the middle of the game! Can you handle the noise?

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” Many people think God is out to ruin their good time, and that Christians are incapable of having any kind of fun. I want you to know that God wants only the best for your life, and he wants to take the difficult times you go through and use them to mold you into a person with a strong and resilient character. And here at Higher Calling, we seek to represent Jesus by being an authentic community, dedicated to one another and to the community around us. Stop by and check us out on a Sunday morning at 10 AM, the link on the side of the page will take you to our main site and give you directions on how to find us. We would love to see you!

-Pastor Zac

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