On June 20, 2007, I was working a trade show in Dallas with a good friend. We are both big baseball fans, so we decided at the last minute to buy tickets to the Rangers game. We knew before purchasing our tickets that the game could be historically significant, and we wanted to be a part of it. Sammy Sosa, the designated hitter for the Texas Rangers was sitting at 599 career home runs. In the 110-year history of Major League Baseball only four others had reached 600.
With excitement we went to the ballpark, but we knew our chances of seeing history made that night were slim. A year earlier Sammy had retired from the game—to be honest, he was forced out. His numbers had declined, and teams weren’t willing to pay him the kind of money he had been used to making, so he retired. As he reflected on his career, he thought about the fact that he was twelve home runs shy of 600. He wanted his happy ending. He swallowed his pride, and the following year accepted a contract for just over baseball’s minimum wage. Sammy hit 10 home runs in the first two months of the season, but quickly cooled off. On the day we arrived in Arlington to watch him, he had hit just one home run in his last twenty-two games.
It appeared obvious to all that Sammy’s career was quickly coming to an end, but that didn’t dampen the excitement in the ballpark that evening. When Sammy stepped to the plate in the first inning, the stadium burst to life in ovation. With the swing of his bat, the stadium appeared to sparkle as cameras flashed in hope of catching the historic moment. The ball, however, trickled off Sammy’s bat toward the third baseman—reminding us all that his best days were behind him.
By the fifth inning, my friend had grown impatient. He was tired from a long day at the trade show, and while the opposing team was up to bat, he decided to go out in the concourse to stretch his legs. I warned him, “Sammy will be up in the bottom of the inning.” He just smiled, and said, “I’ll be back.”
A few minutes later, Sammy stepped to the plate, and my friend was nowhere to be seen. With every pitch the crowd roared, and the cameras flashed. And then, with one ball and two strikes, Sammy Sosa connected. The baseball popped off his bat, ripped over the centerfielder’s head and into the stands. The moment was over in an instant—the blink of an eye, and my friend had missed it.
We often live our lives as if the story of Jesus is over. IT’S NOT! Time and time again in Scripture we are told that Jesus Christ will come again, and that we must be ready. The Apostle Peter tells us, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Peter 3:10), and the Apostle Paul writes, “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Make no mistake, the story of Jesus is not over. He will come again. We might not know the day or the hour, but he is coming. We are simply told to watch… and to be ready.
Jesus said, “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
As Sammy Sosa crossed home plate, my friend appeared from the hallway holding a frozen lemonade. As I had been watching history, he had been standing in line. He later confessed that he had heard it announced when Sammy came to the plate, but he did not believe it would happen. When it comes to Christ, believe… and be ready.
My illustration breaks down, because it really won’t matter where you are when Jesus Christ returns. You won’t miss it! The Bible tells us the whole world will watch when the Son of Man comes on the clouds in glory, and believers and unbelievers alike will be raised from the dead and every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that he is Lord. “In a flash… the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
This is terrifying news for those who are not prepared, yet there is still time. The Bridegroom has not yet come, the door is still open, and your invitation to the banquet remains.
For those who are prepared, do not lose heart that he is a long time in coming. The Bridegroom is faithful and true. You will get your happy ending.
Be patient, and be ready.
Rev. Troy Tysdal serves as editor in chief of Faith & Fellowship magazine.