Steal Back Your Smile
Updated: Sep 10
Even though we might feel crushed and confused, we can find hope and assurance in the face of God. Pastor Josh Anderson shares his thoughts on the passing of a baseball legend, the gift of a smile, and the joy of recovering something precious that had been stolen along the way.
I'm an avid baseball fan who grew up in the State of Hockey.
Ask me why I wasn't interested in lacing up a pair of skates and mixing it up between the boards and I'm sure I could give you a bunch of reasons.
Most of all, I just didn't connect with the frenetic pace of hockey. Or the tripping, slashing, and checking. I'm sure it's poetry in motion, but it's just a bit too Edgar Allen Poe for my liking.
If I'm honest, I hate the brawling. Perhaps it's my peacemaker disposition, but the idea of watching a bunch of grown men beat up each other for sport just isn't for me. Then again, maybe I just don't appreciate the nuances of squaring off against a sweaty behemoth who's trying to knock out my teeth. I like my teeth. Straightening them cost my parent's a lot of money.
Now baseball, that's a sport I can root for. Maybe it's because I'm old and I like falling asleep in my recliner. The pace is slow and methodical. The history is long and storied. And the players are magical and memorable. So when legends like Lou Brock pass away, I take notice.
DON'T QUIT READING. If you think this is just a post about a middle-aged man trying to relive his not-so-glorious years on the diamond, stick with me. There's more to the story.
More Than Just Words
Last Sunday I received a notification on my phone that Brock had died at the age of 81. He retired in 1979, so his playing days were over well before my fandom took root. Still, he was a true legend of baseball. And I knew his exploits well—especially the record number of bases he stole during his career. An astounding 938 for those keeping score at home.
As I was reading the coverage of Brock's passing, something stood out to me. More than the stats and accolades, a quote attributed to him by long-time sports reporter Tim Kjerkjian astounded me:
Something about the simplicity and purity of those words absolutely transcends sport.
A man known best for stealing bases had just reminded me of a sad reality—life has swiped my smile.
You no doubt have heard the expression, "Just grin and bear it?" Well, for the past six months at least, I've completely forgotten about the "grin" part of that well-worn cliche.
A Glad Heart is Found in the Face of God
I don't know about you, but I've been white-knuckling it through life for a while now.
This year alone we've experienced a global pandemic, natural disasters, cries for social justice, polarized public health restrictions, remote learning, and the list goes on. Even actor Chadwick Boseman—who was brilliant as Jackie Robinson in the movie "42"—died after a years-long battle with cancer. I mean, c'mon.
By no means do I aim to diminish or disregard the horrors we've experienced in 2020. They are real and they are significant. Like the author of Proverbs 15:13 wrote, "by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed." Still, even though we might feel crushed and confused, we can find hope and assurance in the face of God. We see Him smiling on us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A Powerful Reminder
The cross reminds us that God cares deeply about the things which cause us pain. So much so, that He takes the wounds that have penetrated our souls and uses that which hurts us most to turn us into something more beautiful.
If that weren't enough, God then uses our broken, pain-riddled lives to bring His healing and miraculous touch to a crushed and sorrow-filled world. In other words, God transforms suffering into salvation.
It took the words of a baseball legend to help me remember that about God. And it took his words to help me take back something that was stolen. God created me to smile. It comes easily to me when I'm not living in fear. It brings me joy even in the midst of sorrow. And with a "cheerful face," it's possible for me to bring others face-to-face with a Heavenly Father who smiles, who laughs, and who loves.
There is something that happens under the surface of a smile that is deeper and even more meaningful than words can express. Is it time for you to rediscover that smile of yours? Go ahead. Take a running start at stealing it back. The world needs to be disarmed by more of us smiling.
While our Sunday gatherings may be canceled, church isn't. That's because we are the church. We invite you to watch new videos in your homes with friends and family every Sunday starting at 10am. Or watch and worship on your own. Be reminded that we are all connected, and God is with us—wherever we are.
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