Yesterday afternoon I officiated at opening day for the marriage of Michael Holmes and Kelsey Stultz.
And yes, a baseball metaphor is appropriate for their wedding.
Michael and my boys, Gabe and Nick, grew up watching the Texas Rangers play baseball at the ballpark. My friend Fred (Michael’s dad), the boys, and I have some great memories – we were there the night the spotlight was on Nolan Ryan. The night they retired his number. Over the years we ate hotdogs, lemon chills, and ice cream as our Rangers fought for a division title. They lost a lot in those days. But it didn’t matter.
Not to our boys. Not to Fred or me. It was being there. At the ballpark. Together. Participating, albeit vicariously, in the game.
I pray for Michael that he will carry into his marriage with Kelsey some of what we learned at the ballpark. You are there because you love each other. You are there to celebrate victories, and to hold each other up when there are losses. And you’re in it for the long haul – you don’t call it quits when things don’t go the way you dreamed they would go.
So, this is spring training for you two. You start out your marriage the way you start out the season – with a championship in view.
Only now you aren’t a spectator. You’re in the game, and you’re ready to build a team for the ages. But it takes time. Patience. Self-discipline and devotion to the team (by the way, there’s a no-trade clause in your contract).
The Lord Jesus – to extend the metaphor – isn’t just a bench coach, or even a manager. He’s the equivalent of your Owner-Player-Coach. He bought you at a very high price. He’s on the field, in the game with you, empowering you as a seasoned Veteran, having experienced every facet of the game, yet without sin.
And when you play well, when the game is going your way, the world is going to throw a spotlight on your marriage. People will want to know why you are different from all the other teams, and why you remained loyal to the same team all those years, when sexier offers to join a flashier team were so attractive. That’s when you remind them that there is a reason for your endurance, for your success – for the hope that is in you. That’s when you step aside to reveal the Owner-Player-Coach of your team. You have been faithful to each other because the Lord Jesus Christ has been, and always will be, faithful to you.
Kelsey and I haven’t talked much baseball yet. But she understands the importance of Jesus being front and center in her marriage to Michael – even in the midst of well-meaning friends who insisted that her wedding day was “all about her.” During the rehearsal dinner, she said to me, “It really isn’t all about me. It’s all about Jesus. He’s the one Michael and I want to be in the spotlight.”
Right. She’s a keeper, Michael!
Now – OK, after the honeymoon – we need to get her to the Ballpark.
The season is about to start.