Bottom of the 9th - Walk-Off
by Meredith Weide
If you are a Rockies Baseball fan, you have been treated to more than your fair share of an exciting phenomenon known as the walk-off. Sometimes itâ€™s a walk-off home run, sometimes a walk-off hit (in less than epic instances it could be a walk-off walk, or a walk-off balk ... aka balk-off). Most times it is a thrilling exhibition for the home team. It is the ultimate â€œkeep hope aliveâ€ reward that adheres fans to their seats whether at the ballpark or their living room.
The event of a walk-off is what little league dreams are made of. Who does not relish the opportunity to be the game saver in its final moments? However, any parent or coach who has ever consoled a player who did not have this dream come true and was the final out of the game, understands the down side of the walk-off â€“ a completely different kind of walking off. It is interesting to know that the first sports writer to coin the phrase â€œwalk-offâ€ was actually referring to the lonely pitcher who had to endure walking off the field while the home team celebrated their last minute win. As is usually the case in baseball, for every celebration, there is a time of disappointment by someone else on the field. Being simultaneously close to glory and despair is part of the charm of sport, and what makes us cling to statistics in this game of baseball.
There are nine (or more) innings of drama that make up a baseball game. Plenty of time for hits and outs, and each one is integral in the make up of the final outcome. Why do we place so much importance on the final hit or out? Why does the fourth hit in the fifth inning not warrant an icy water bath at the end of the game? Is it not just as important to the score? Of course it is, and without everything that happens in the middle of the game, there would be no cause for celebration at the end, but we are drawn to the impossible and give praise to those who exhibit nerves of steel (or at the very least, a heaping helping of good luck!).
Somewhere in the midst of a walk-off, there must lie a parable. How would Jesus spin a story about walk-offs in the Kingdom of God? The thief crucified alongside Jesus hit a walk-off, when he repented at the final hour, â€œTruly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradiseâ€ (Luke 23:43). John the Baptist (and later Jesus himself) warned people not to wait until the last moment to believe: â€œRepent, for the kingdom of heaven is at handâ€ (Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 4:17). The author of James is also more about hits and runs in the middle of the game when he encourages us to not put off our faith journey, â€œYet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishesâ€ (James 4:14).
Walk-offs for Jesus, or last minute conversions, make for compelling headlines and real life drama, but it is a â€œwalk-on with Jesusâ€ right here and now that I would encourage you to embrace. There is exuberant celebration to be had everyday that we walk with Jesus Christ. Get your hits and runs in now, in the middle of the game. You just might set up a situation for someone to win it all in their final moments.
â€œ ... that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.â€ Colossians 1: 10-12
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