By Doug Inglish — Denver, Colorado … If you love something, you can endure a lot to be near it. I definitely loved my job as a pastor of a church on an academy campus. I had a terrific group of elders, I loved having all the students with us in worship services, and the interaction with the teachers was great. So, for ten years I, a true-blue fan of the Chicago Cubs, lived in the land of the Cardinals.
It was not easy. While they stacked up annual playoff appearances, I talked about another year of ‘rebuilding’. They took home a World Series trophy; I marked off the 98th year without one. And even my closest friends took fiendish delight in reminding me of their success and my futility.
One day, I turned the tables on a tormentor. “You know, my marriage is more important to me than any sports team, but being a Cubs fan is good for our relationship because it makes my wife more secure,” I declared. “Think about it: she knows I’m around for good. If I was the kind of person who bailed when things got tough, I would have been rooting for the Yankees before the end of the 70s. But here I am, still faithful to a team that last won it all 41 years before I was born. She knows, in a way that few people can, that I’m with her to stay.”
It was a solid argument, and he had to concede the point. And about ten years later, he sent me a congratulatory text just minutes after the Cubs ended their 108-year drought in 2016.
The unspoken point I made to my friend was that it’s easy to be faithful when things are going your way. But when things get tough, that’s when we learn whether we are really faithful, or just fair-weather fans. This is something which my friends in Missouri, after being shut out of the series themselves since 2006, are now learning. I’m nice enough to not rub it in, but not so nice that I don’t feel some satisfaction in their education.
I know I’m being about as subtle as a monster truck rally here, but these are tough times. There is little doubt that we are in a recession, and nobody knows how deep it will go. Some of the headlines even reference the 1930s. I can’t even estimate how many of our members are unemployed, underemployed, or uncertain they will remain employed. How deep and long is the drought? We don’t know, and the uncertainty is part of what makes the times so tough.
This is when we find out if we are faithful. Not when we have a steady income and no reason to think it’s going to be interrupted. We learn the truth about ourselves when we are afraid, when we are stretched thin, when our lives are disrupted.
Whether you are sheltering at home, laid off, or trying to navigate the new way of working, I hope you are all seeking encouragement from reading your Bible, praying, and doing church however possible. And if you or a loved one have fallen ill, then now more than ever, I hope you find comfort in those places.
And I hope you find out something very important about yourself. I hope that you learn that you are truly faithful. Faithful in seeking a relationship with your Father. Faithful in your giving. Faithful in your witness.
It’s not always easy. I know, I’m a Cubs fan. I learned that faithful means even if you have no rational hope in spring training, even when you’ve been eliminated, even when you hear the taunts from the perennial winners, you swallow hard and wear your team’s cap. Without apologies. Without excuses. You wear it with pride.
I pray you are okay, and I pray you stay okay through all of this craziness. But more than anything, I pray that no matter what comes your way, you are faithful.
Doug Inglish, RMC Planned Giving and Trust Services director. Photo by Chris Briggs on Unsplash