Something amazing happened a long time ago, and ever since then we’ve been waiting with anticipation for it to happen again. Many books and articles have been written explaining exactly what qualifications must be met in order for it to happen again. There have been countless bold predictions proclaiming exactly when it will happen again, all of which have been wrong so far. It could happen again this week. It could happen again in 40 years. No one knows for sure…
If you live on planet earth you’ve heard that the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and if they win, it will be the first time they’ve won the World Series since 1908. My first thought is that, even having an eternal perspective, that’s a very long time! I was born into a family full of Cub fans so I’ve been a Cubs fan my entire life.
One of the songs played at my grandpa’s funeral was “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request” by Steve Goodman. Before beginning to walk with Jesus my freshman year of college, sports held a massive place in my heart. I began to grow, and my affections and priorities shifted. Adulthood certainly didn’t remove my love for the Chicago Cubs, my hype for this season, or my possible heartbreak if the Cubs lose to Cleveland. As I’ve grown my obsession has settled down into more of a healthy enjoyment. But in reflecting on my former level of unhealthy fandom to the Cubs, I realized that I learned lessons and principles that provided a wonderful backdrop to walking with God after becoming a Christian.
Dedication Amidst Discouragement
Chicago Cubs fans have always been one of the great mysteries in American sports. Since long before I was alive, the Chicago Cubs have had arguably the most loyal and dedicated fans in sports (despite usually being the doormat of baseball’s entire National League). This reality has earned the Cubs their nickname: “The Loveable Losers.” No matter how bad the Cubs are on any given year, one can almost guarantee that the bleachers at Wrigley Field will remain at maximum capacity for every game. Cubs fans willingly walk through the valley of another terrible Cubs season (or a hundred) because they are so convinced that their beloved Cubbies will someday surely reach that mountaintop and win the World Series. When all logic suggests giving up and saving themselves from a lifetime of discouragement, Cubs fans stay true.
When I began my relationship with Jesus Christ, I learned two things very quickly: I am a new person with a new identity, new desires, and a new hope; and, in paradoxically, I am also still weak, still sinful, and still dwelling in a broken world. Heartache, pain, and disappointment run rampant in this world to levels that leave us speechless and horrified. But clinging to the promises of God and His constant presence in my life will see me through all the discouragement and pain that my sin and the sin of this world can throw at me. The world says, “Jump ship! It’s not worth it! Take the easy way out on this one!” But after walking with God for even just eight years now, I know what to do: stay true to my Lord in faithfulness and obedience.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus is so worthy of everything I have to offer that my only choice is to walk with Him (not without plenty of tripping and slipping along the way). Cubs fans remain committed even when object of their dedication is a team riddled with a history of failure and disappointment. Christians commit their affections to the One who has never tasted failure nor caused disappointment.
Anticipation for the Celebration
When the Cubs do win the World Series – whether in a week or in ten years, it will happen – the collective elation of all Cubs fans everywhere will be on a level so much more intense than any other team’s World Series win. I am certain this is true. No other team has these fans, this history, this ballpark, this identity, or this anticipation. When other teams win, I can’t help but scoff at the team’s and fans’ celebration. I look at their excitement and tears and I think, “You’ve gone through so little in comparison! You have no idea!” When the Cubs had finally beat the Dodgers to advance to the World Series grandfathers, great-grandmas, fathers, uncles, sisters, cousins, and friends cried tears of immense joy over merely getting a glimpse of possibly winning it all.
When the Cubs finally do win it all, the sports world will completely stop for a day. The city of Chicago will likely riot. Yankees fans will sit down together with Red Sox fans and say, “I’m glad the Cubs finally did it.” The victory parade through the city will be the highest attended of all time for any sport. The declaration of “There’s always next year” will no longer be heard in the city of Chicago. In its stead will be congratulatory signs, “The W” flag, and the melody of “Go, Cubs, Go”, all declaring that the Cubs are the best there is.
And as amazing as this scene is for me to picture, it reminds me of a different scene. A better one. One that doesn’t just last for a day or a season or an era. One with a Champion whose title stands for all time and will never again be challenged. Yes, for this scene I wait with even more anticipation. One glorious day, we will stand before the King, Jesus Christ – who, having previously made himself weak for our sake, will have finally conquered evil once and for all – and we will unreservedly celebrate with Him for all eternity! The “W” will be flying high; people of all ages and stages will finally be residents of a City that is not marked by disappointment, brokenness, and defeat; and a melody that sings “Holy, Holy, Holy” will forever ring throughout the City; because Jesus Christ stood toe-to-toe with the curse and conquered it for all time. What an indescribable experience to share in that glorious victory.
Being a Cubs fan has taught me a lot about perseverance during hard seasons – literal baseball seasons as well as seasons of life; about hope for a better future; and especially about faithfulness to a flawed team that has won my affections but often betrays my trust. So I’m joking only slightly when I say that my Cubs fandom warmed my heart to Christ! Of course there are both the hills and valleys in this Christian life, but knowing that Christ’s final victory is inevitable, decisive, and sure, I find it much easier to walk through it all. I long with great anticipation for this final chapter where Christ will reign and we will celebrate, and I live my life in light of this future reality. But in the meantime, I just can’t help but keep hoping that this year will be the year that my Loveable Losers will finally win the World Series.
-Zac Marquis, University of Illinois Cru Staff