Opening Day

My mom is a big baseball fan. She greatly anticipates the Cincinnati Red’s season each year. She shared her excitement with us on Easter Sunday, telling us her plans to watch the opening day game in her Red’s t-shirt this week.

I didn’t watch the game or hear how the Red’s did. I could call my mom to find out if I really wanted to, but I am not as interested in the details. To me, opening day is just a day that soon comes and goes. It is a momentary blip on the radar of our crazy-busy lives.

I was thinking about that this morning in light of the Resurrection. We had an “opening day” this week too – the empty tomb. “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:1-3). Christians get all worked up over our opening day too. We celebrate Easter with new clothes, special church services, food, and family gatherings. It is right to rejoice on this day because it is a big deal. Jesus has risen from the dead!

But what happens when opening day fades? How should every day be different in light of His Resurrection?  

A friend of mine sent me a video clip for Easter that shows a painter and his work. In the clip, the painter talks about the process he undertook to fulfill his commission. He said he went first to the Scriptures because he wanted to “understand the deep meaning of the Resurrection”. His painting is an overwhelmingly large mural of the Resurrection of Christ that took him two years to complete. I can’t imagine envisioning something so magnificent, much less having the skill, patience, and perseverance to complete it. I watched in amazement as the painter worked. He was hoisted several feet up on a lift with his palette in hand, painting the small shadows of an arm of one of the people depicted.  The picture is Christ emerging from the tomb with a crowd of witnesses gathered on either side. The painter called them a “cast of characters”. Patriarchs, prophets, and kings stand on either side of the tomb as Christ emerges in glory and power. They are there to witness Jesus’ opening day. These are the people whose entire lives proclaimed this day, though they lived thousands of years prior to seeing its fulfillment. The painting is a picture of worship and fulfillment; a climatic ending to their stories and lives of faith.  

But what does it mean for us? For us who live on this side of the Resurrection? For us who celebrate His opening day perennially year after year?

My daughter Chloe recently played the piano in a music festival at Cedarville University. It was something her teacher recommended; an opportunity to play in front of judges who would critique her playing and give her some feedback. I was initially unsure about this, but agreed to go. She was assigned to the “hymn playing” category. For months, she practiced her two pieces. She was playing both of them beautifully and consistently.  

Then her “opening day” came; the day she would have to play in front of the judges. She fretted all morning, wanting to back out. I tried to encourage her by telling her how beautifully she played. I told her to pretend she was at home playing like she had practiced for so long. I couldn’t miss the irony that she was going in to play a hymn entitled, “Stand up, Stand Up for Jesus”, but so desperately wanted to “sit down” in her fear. As she walked meekly into the room and the door closed gently behind her, I silently prayed from outside the door that God would give her courage. A few minutes later, I smiled with relief and thanked Him when I heard the melodic notes wafting perfectly into the corridor.  She had done it. We were both glad that was over!

The funniest part was the change in Chloe afterward.  She received a “superior” rating and was called up to the front in the recital later that afternoon. As we were walking out, she turned to me and said, “I think I would like to do this every year so I can earn my gold cup”. A gold cup is earned after three consecutive years of superior ratings. I was amazed at my once fearful, now confident girl. The shrinking violent had become a morning glory.  I could not be more proud of her. She could see the prize and wanted to go for it.   

This is what I think we are supposed to do in light of the Resurrection. We have seen the prize: Christ has risen from the grave! He has conquered sin and death. He holds the keys to the Kingdom and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He’s won the game of life. It is time to “go for it” and share what we know with those around us. It is time to stand up for Jesus; to overcome our fears. Like the painter, we have been commissioned. We should seek to understand the “deep meaning of the Resurrection”. We have been given this work to complete, and our witness requires skill, patience, perseverance, and courage.

I hope this year that my life is more than a building anticipation to celebrate opening day again next year. I want to share the hope I have because I know HE LIVES! 

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross
Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army He shall lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

I can do more than “root…root…root for the home team”. I can be on the team. Get in the game, play my song.  We have a whole lot more to pass than peanuts and crackerjacks, and a whole lot more riding on us – for eternity.

Batter up!

 Here is a link to the Resurrection painting video, be inspired: To see the video of the painting, Click here

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