Of Errors, Goats & Heros

October 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

It is World Series time, and this year’s offering between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers has not disappointed. Tonight is game seven, which for the uninitiated means that in this Major League Championship, the best-of-seven series is tied at three games apiece.

Last night’s game was particularly good, in fact, it is already regarded by sports experts as one of, if not the, greatest games in World Series history. It was the most exciting I’ve ever seen. In a game that the Cardinals won in extra innings (11) on a walk-off homerun, there were many errors that could easily have cost either team the game. On some level it was the messiest of the six games played. Players who routinely fielded grounders and caught pop flies found themselves dropping, overthrowing and miscalculating to their teams’ detriments.

In fact, the game’s hero, Cardinals’ third baseman David Freese, made what was potentially the costliest error of the night, a missed infield pop-up, a play he would normally make in his sleep. That drop led to go-ahead runs that appeared to be all Texas needed for a victory that would have ended the Series.

Had St. Louis lost, the storyline would have been a different one. But Freese got one more chance, and with that opportunity he hit an eleventh inning walk-off home run that sealed the Cardinals’ victory (Freese is pictured above, as he joyfully rounds third base after his winning hit).

It led me to think of Jacob, whom the writer of Hebrews says (11:21) worshiped God, as he died, leaning on his staff. Jacob, as you may remember, was crippled for life after wrestling with the Lord in a cave throughout an entire evening. It wasn’t a fatal wound and it wasn’t one delivered without love. But Jacob was a lifelong con man whose name meant ‘deceiver,’ and whose default response to life’s challenges was to lie. In that cave God changed his name to Israel (that’s right, he’s the guy the nation was named after), because He changed Jacob. And in the wound, He gave him the lifelong reminder that being a flawed, limping, imperfect mess who is loved by God, is better than pretending to be something on the outside, while desperately empty within.

So while I hope Texas pulls it out tonight (though I have my doubts), I love that the hero of last evening’s game was nearly the goat, in fact, for a moment he was. Perhaps it is because my own life’s daily record bears many error-filled instances, and maybe it is because, regardless of the venue, redemptive moments always resonate with hope for the unfinished. But mostly, I think it is because it redirected my attention to this one reality: That the God I know and worship is also the God who loves and saves me in spite of my pitiful stats.

We goats love good news…


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