Loving baseball as I do, I share a portion of Braves season tickets. My seats are almost directly behind home plate, though on the highest level of the ballpark, far distant from the playing field. Not prime seats, but it’s what I can afford and I enjoy them thoroughly.
Last week I invited three friends as my guests to a Braves vs. Giants game. As we got in the car, one of my friends produced four additional tickets. “They’re from my boss; nobody at the office could use them. I thought we’d check out how good the seats are.” Answer: pretty damn good!! Row 1, Field level. You know when you watch a game on TV and in the background behind the batter you can see a few fans? Those seats. That night, we were those fans! I examined the tickets and learned the face value was $475. Each. This is what is called an upgrade. This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “The one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9) And that’s this Friday’s lesson, right? Nope. Guess again.
Did I mention these up-close seats included access to a lavish buffet and open bar which were totally gratis? Chipper Jones sat a couple tables away, but he didn’t ask for my autograph, so I didn’t ask for his either. Surrounded by luxury, we even enjoyed the 90 minute rain delay.
Frankly, my high-altitude seats, offer a better view of the game, the positioning of the fielders, the base-runners’ leads. First Row seats distort distances and perspective. From Row 1, however, the game becomes very personal. We could see the expression on the umpire’s face when a batter argued a called strike. We could hear Nick Markakis (Braves outfielder) chatting to a friend from the on-deck circle. We saw the catcher grimace when hit by a foul tip. We felt like we were part of the game itself.
I enjoy my high-altitude seats where I can dissect and analyze the game. But I’ll opt for up-close and personal every time. Even without the free food. When God invites me to abandon my distant objectivity and throw myself into intense involvement, I hope I’m awake and have the courage to accept the challenge. That’s my lesson for this Friday.
Lesson #2: I don’t think often about heaven. But after spending three hours in heaven at the ball park, I can warm up to it. Right now, heaven is a distant concept I can affirm in theory. If eternity with God is as up-close and personal as a Row 1 seat, I can dig it. Who knows—in heaven Chipper may want my autograph.