In a couple hours I’ll call my grandmother. I’m waiting to give her time to watch the game. Or sleep in. I figure she might not have lasted until the final out. That’s a late night for a lady who rises before 5. Maybe she DVRed it. Of course we’re talking about the Cubs and the World Series and Nana so I wouldn’t put it past her to stay up all night. To still be up, pinching herself.
My nana is in her eighties. She grew up in southern Illinois and has rooted for the Cubs her whole life. Growing up, I saw Nana watch hundreds of baseball games, usually with the sound off, sometimes on the TV in the living room while Poppa watched his beloved Cardinals on the TV in the den, both of them decked out in team colors. Over the course of their marriage (and rivalry) Poppa’s cardinals won five world series titles. Over the course of her eighty plus year life the Cubs won none.
And still Nana rooted for the Cubs. She has been a most devoted (and disappointed) fan.
So when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night, and the whole city, like a long-dormant volcano, erupted in joy, I cried. I cried because my nana, and a tribe of fans all over the country, saw their wildest dream come true.
The longer you wait for something, the less likely it seems to ever happen, and the sweeter it is when it does.
Yesterday I started reading the book of Joshua. When Joshua takes charge after Moses dies, God’s people the Israelites, have been wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Now, all their older relatives having died off, Joshua leads a group of people who’ve never known anything other than the mountains and deserts of the Sinai Peninsula. They’ve heard stories about their parents’ God, about a split sea and plagues. They believe those stories; they’re loyal to that God. But still, all they know is the wandering. They’re unacquainted with victory and the fulfillment of promises.
They’re the Cubs of the Old Testament.
Then God tells Joshua it’s time, time to leave the wilderness, time to take the Promised Land, and Joshua tells the people to get ready. In chapter 3 Joshua gives instructions for how they’ll cross the Jordan River. He tells them to follow the ark of the covenant, “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”
That line. “...Since you have never been this way before.” Just thinking about those kids playing on one side of the river their whole lives, skipping rocks to the other side, those kids now young adults, looking beyond the river, wondering what’s coming for their families, daydreaming about planting a vineyard on their own plot of land, wondering what grapes taste like--all of it makes my heart skip a beat.
This is what they’ve been waiting for.
In the next few chapters God will miraculously dam the Jordan, allowing them to cross on dry land. He’ll show up in their camp and talk face to face with their captain. He’ll knock down the walls of the fortified city of Jericho and enable their total victory over the city. They’ll eat grapes and honey.
What must that have been like? For a Jewish girl who’d never known anything beyond a refugee camp in the desert, who’d never tasted anything other than her daily rations of manna and quail, who’d spent her whole life in a holding pattern, waiting for her parents and grandparents to die so she could move on, a girl who’d never seen the miracles of which she’d heard stories.
What would it have been like to see your wildest dreams come true?
I imagine it would be just a little like seeing the president of the United States, a giddy Cubs fan, eagerly invite his team to celebrate at the white house on Twitter.
One friend of mine, a Chicagoan, said the church bells in her neighborhood rang as if God Himself were celebrating with her loyal, persevering city.
I read that and I cried again. I thought of all the things I’m hoping for, all the things I’m dreaming that haven’t happened yet, all the promises God’s made that aren’t quite fulfilled and I imagined they had been and my heart swelled as I listened to the church bells and watched the walls of Jericho tumble.
This morning, I’m thinking of my friends and family who’re waiting for something impossible. I’m thinking about friends in marriages that seem too broken to fix, friends estranged from parents, friends trying and failing to meet professional goals, friends trying and failing and trying again to become the people God wants them to be. I’m thinking of them and thinking of Israel and thinking of the Cubs losing for a century and feeling like maybe it’s a good idea to persevere even when something seems like it’s never going to happen.
That Cubs win was a good reminder to all of us to keep hoping.
To remember that a long wait doesn’t make a thing less possible, just more exciting when it happens.