Sitting just to the right of the third-base dugout, a mere two rows above floor level, I was in my newfound happy place. My face felt the breeze, and the smell of wet leather coming off the gloves danced around my nose.
With every pitch, my own gut fluttered with excitement. Though the game had advanced far beyond the borders from when I had held my own bat, my brain tricked me into believing I could still come around with enough speed to connect with the yellow dot. Throw across my body with ease and precision. Chase down a fly ball with perfect anticipation. (All without a good epsom soak.)
I was sucked in. Like a Disney four-D movie, I wasn’t just watching the game, I was in the game.
And then it happened. Though I was here to see my Lady Cajuns play, I saw her. Strolling across the field, politely acknowledging the white chalk, she made her way to the third-base coach’s box.
Blonde hair pulled up. Visor on. The opponent’s coach. Patti Gasso!!
I stared. Maintaining my outward composure, I wanted to hop out of my seat and hurdle the dugout to my side of the diamond. Offer her my highest of fives. I just knew we could chat it up like we were BFFs. I’d tell her how much I admired her coaching style. Her guts. Her poise. Her feistiness. (Because sometimes I don’t have boundaries. Or a filter.)
I wanted to jump up and down in my best Elf voice and scream, “It’s Patti! It’s Patti! I know her!”
Because that’s what fans do. They jump around and get excited! They think they know people.
Which reminds me.
12The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet him. They kept shouting:
“Hosanna!JOHN 12:13, CSB
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord[d] —the King of Israel!”
These people were Jesus fans.
Earlier, many in the present crowd had been in Bethany when Jesus had called Lazarus — dead man walking — out of his tomb. They had been amazed! (For good reason.) And many of them believed Jesus to be the Messiah. And now, they were a part of this spontaneous crowd, shouting and waving their palms. This man Jesus had come to save them from their oppressors. He’d come to conquer the Romans. To silence Caesar.
41 As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.LUKE 19:41-42, CSB
Jesus wept. Not for Himself, but for Jerusalem and her people. God’s people. The people He had come to save but those who would reject Him. Expecting one thing, they would miss the real thing.
Though their sin had separated them from the One who loved them, Jesus came to bridge the chasm between them and a Holy God. But before He would lay it all down on the cross, He showed them who God was. How He loved — with compassion and kindness. With mercy and with grace. With tenderness. And He asked people to follow Him.
Follow me. Watch me. Become like me.
Friends, I am taking a long look inside. Am I a Jesus follower? Or am I just a fan? Really?
Our calendar is pointing to Palm Sunday. As it approaches, can I challenge us? Can we look long and hard inside our hearts to make sure we’re not just fans of Jesus, shouting and waving our palm branches? Wearing bracelets and fitting our cars with fish. Are we becoming more like Jesus? Do we love like Jesus? Serve like Jesus? See like Jesus? Surrender like Jesus?
It was easy for fans to turn on Jesus when He wasn’t who they thought He was. When His purpose didn’t match their perceived need. But Jesus never asked us to be His fans. He asked us to follow Him. To know Him. To watch Him and imitate Him so that others might know the love of God.
Fans think they know people.
Followers of Jesus know Him more and more!
Heavenly Father, You are infinite. Above all things. Over all things. And yet You are my Father in heaven at whose feet I can sit. In whose arms I can rest. You are both infinite and intimate. And I want to follow Jesus all the way to “Not my will but Thine.” I want to live like Him so that others see You in me, and know how much You love them. And it’s in His precious name that I come to You now. Amen.
10-11 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.PHILIPPIANS 3, MSG
Patti Gasso is the head coach for the Oklahoma Sooners Softball team. She has been at OU since 1995. She has won 4 World Series and has been to the tournament twelve times. She and the Sooners are playing for her fifth championship tonight!!
Yes. I am a fan!
But I don’t know her. She doesn’t know me. Or love me.
I am only a fan.
But Patti loves Jesus, too!!