It's Not Just a Cap!

On this past Father’s Day weekend, I treated myself to a new St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. While celebrating with our son and his family, we went over to the nearby West County Mall. At Matt’s suggestion we dropped into the Rally House store to check out the gear. He was looking for a trendy t-shirt with the City Connect script-style logo. I was looking for a black cap with a red visor and traditional StL logo in contrasting red stitching. We were both happy with our purchases!

After getting back to the house, Monique reminded me that I haven’t worn my other Card caps much this season. I reminded her that the Redbirds have been in the basement of  their division standings much of the time. She drove home her point with a concluding dig as I tried on the new cap, “I thought you were mad at them!” It’s true that I am tired of their underperforming! While I haven’t completely given up on them, I am weary with making excuses and complaining! I've got fan fatigue! I shouldn’t have to lament “There’s always next season!”

Now, don’t misunderstand. I have a rule for complaining about my sports family. It’s okay for me to criticize the home team, but I don’t appreciate trash talk from the rivals! I have a very good friend who happens to root for one of those teams. He tries to be careful with his words when saying, “It’s not the Cardinal history and organization. I respect that! It’s the Cardinal fans that get on my nerves!” I am quick to remind him that I am one of those fans and caution him, “Eazzee Cubbie!”

In truth, when I don my ball cap, it’s not just a cap! We’re saying to others what we’re proud of and what gives us a feeling of value in wearing our favorite sports gear. I understand that a one-hundred and sixty-two game regular season of baseball has many slumps and surges. Hopefully, more of the latter than the former! But I’m learning again this season that it takes humility and patience for fans to stay with a team that is struggling. Over the years, we have been spoiled by an epic legacy of so many superstars and especially by those eleven World Series titles! Cardinal history is special!

What does all of this have to do with faith and the gospel? The Christian life is subject to slumps and surges as well. The history of the people of faith is a narrative filled with the “thrill of victory” as well as “the agony of defeat!” The writer to the Hebrews summarized how, “By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11:33-34. NLT).

How did they persist during adversity? “It was by faith!” This refrain is repeated again and again in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. The truth in this bold affirmation underscores the need for repetition, “It is impossible to please God without faith!” (v.6). This one power-packed word has defined believers throughout history! And I’ve even seen some cool ball caps in the big box stores with a lettered logo, “F-A-I-T-H,” stitched above the visor and with the Cross prominently substituting for the letter “T.”

Faith and belief in the existence of God is the ultimate reward for those who sincerely seek Him! (Hebrews 11:6). And faith in God’s only Son, the Savior of the world, is our only hope of eternal life! (John 3:16). It’s no surprise that one of the church’s most beloved hymns exclaims, “Faith is the victory that overcomes the world!”

Faith that overcomes the slumps and bumps of life will require boldness and persistence on our part. If there is to be victory, we’ll need to pray and trust God daily to “turn our weakness into strength!” May our goal be to live so transparently that others will readily observe how we do life and say, “It was by faith!”

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
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