Tonight will bring an end to the Major League Baseball regular season and with it the end to two brilliant careers. Those who know me know I am not a New York Yankees fan by any means (nor am I a Red Sox fan). However, the one player who I am genuinely sad to see retire is Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera. I like Rivera just as much for what he didn’t do as what he did do. One the field he was the best closer at least in my generation if not for all time. He did it with class and humility and without fanfare and glam. Off the field he stayed out of trouble and gave back to many. There was a moment last week as Rivera was playing his last game in his home stadium (Yankee Stadium) in which three of the greatest players during my lifetime were assembled together on the pitching mound. It was Mariano Rivera (retiring), Andy Pettitte (retiring), and Derek Jeter (most likely to retire next year). I like how one sports writer put it, “Pettitte and Jeter did something that very few hitters since 1997 could do, they got to Mariano Rivera.” I was not able to see it live, but I have been able to watch it since, and I will say that is a moment that will be etched in my mind for a very long time. These three gentlemen have been together for years, they have won together, they have lost together, and late last week along with thousands in the stadium as well as at home, they cried together. You normally don’t think of professional athletes as crying all that much, but last week was something that transcended sports. This was the last time these three would be on the field at Yankee Stadium as players together. Seeing them cry and embrace each other reminds me that we should all take time to enjoy not just the moments of life, but the people of our life. As someone who has played on many different teams growing up I can say that your teammates become like family to you. I can honestly say that although I was privileged to play on several championship teams, the memories I have are not tied directly to the game, they are tied to the guys I shared the field, locker room, and hotel rooms with.
1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.” Yesterday (at least at 8:30) we started a new sermon series entitled, “What is a Church Member?” One thing that we learned was that we are family. Churches certainly remind me of families, because they fuss, the fight, sometimes they scream, they don’t always treat each other the right way, but then there are times in which it feels as though no one else is there for you other than your church family and they go out of their way to do something nice for you. My family and I have experienced the latter part especially over the past year when a beautiful little girl was brought into our family in an extraordinary way. Our church family welcomed her and loved her and the rest of our family in ways that I can’t even begin to describe, and we will forever be grateful.
My point is this, cherish those around you, especially your family whether they are your physical family or your spiritual family. God has put them in your life for many reasons, one of the biggest reasons is to remind you that you don’t have to go through this life alone. You may fight with your family a lot or maybe you are just fighting with them now, but just remember all too quick they are gone. It is hard to believe that #42 for the Yankees is retiring. Mariano Rivera was the Yankees closer for the past 16 years, but come the first of April 2014, the one affectionately called “Mo” will no longer put on the Yankee pinstripes. You have your family today, but retirement from this life is closer than you think. Enjoy the time, enjoy your family!
By His grace through His strength may we live for Him