For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. ( Philippians 1:21-24 NIV)
It’s that time of year again, when the trees soon start changing and baseball season is quickly coming to an end. This time of year always invokes a lot of unique emotions for many professional baseball players, especially those in the minor leagues. I find myself again seeing the end of the season bringing with it a pulled string on my heart. With the end of baseball season approaching, a realization of a full heart does too. I have been married almost 3 years now and the longer I am away from my wife during the season, the harder it gets each day. The Bible teaches us that when a man leaves to marry his wife, the two become one flesh. (Mark 10:7-9) That’s exactly how being separated during the season can feel, like missing a piece of your very self. This has taught me something very significant, that my heart, longs to be home where it belongs. Home is no other place then where the heart is. My heart longs to be with my wife here on earth, and as a Christian my heart longs daily to be home with Christ. Is this longing of my heart evidence of where I truly belong?
Back in 2007, when I first left to play professional baseball with the Mets, I had to leave my friends and parents back at home. Now, being on my own, starting my own life and career was definitely an adjustment, but I knew I had to do it. It was necessary to achieve a dream I had and to make a life of my own. These are things God calls us to do. As the season went by that first year, I missed home, but I knew I also had a job to do. I missed summer nights with friends, graduation parties, and summer vacations. These days were always the hardest and seeing the pictures of the good times over Facebook made me feel left out. Every player deals with this on some level because you miss those people you care about. These longings aren’t bad; they only show you that you care about those people. I would slowly learn as the seasons went on that the sacrifices would become harder and harder each year.
Over the past few seasons I have missed weddings of close friends, and sadly, even the passing of some family members. Even though I am away in distance my heart still grieves for missed time spent with them. You have a longing to be with the family during a trying period. However, these feelings that I have prove that I miss them. That I long to be with those people. Home is where the heart is, and mine was there.
Nothing has taught me this more then the last three seasons of being married to my beautiful wife. Ever since we meet and been together I have been playing baseball. Due to this, coupled with the fact that we both need to be working in order to make enough money in my minor league career, she has to stay back home. This puts me in the position of only seeing here once every 6 weeks during the season. This is a difficult thing to do; your other half is not with you. You truly are in two pieces. We do every thing we can to stay close. We text message non-stop, Skype, talk on the phone, and even send each other care packages. (She sends me way better ones then I do. Something I need to work on.) However, it is just not the same thing, you count the days and long for the day you will be together and whole again. Finally, when that time comes, and you’ re reunited you get a feeling of belonging or wholeness that overcomes you, because you’re where your heart belongs. This is what marriage is and this is what it feels like for me being in Christ.
All these things together provided me, through God’s grace, a window to understand my “long distance” relationship with Christ. In this life we have been separated from God, due to sin, but nonetheless separated. We try to fill that void with other things in this life, whatever it may be, but the fact remains the heart is still longing for home, its true place. I didn’t know what the desire was coming from before becoming a Christian. I just thought I needed things in this life.
Being a Christian now for some years, I really understand what it means to, “belong to Christ”. All the times I felt like I was alone, not whole, like something is missing, something was, I didn’t know where home was. I found where home is now; it was with God, in Christ. I found my other half, what completes me, what I was made for. Now I just have to wait, wait until my “season” as a Christian is over on this earth. Then, I will get to be at home, truly satisfied. Until that glorified day I will stay close to Him in heart, until finally we meet face to face. This doesn’t prevent me from doing what I am called to do here knowing this fact though. No, I am here to bring others to this wonder hope. I know I long to be with Christ, but until my “season” is done I will remain here living for him. I will have days where I will long to be in His presence because just like wanting to be with my wife, I will want to be with Him. However, when it’s all said and done, Home is where the heart is, and at home with Him I will be.