This is one of the best times of the year for a sports fan. The college and NFL football seasons are in full swing, and the MLB playoffs begin this week. My team, the Cincinnati Reds, have made it into the post-season for the third time in the last four years. As a Reds fan, there hasn’t been much to cheer about since the club won the World Series in 1990. This recent run of success has bolstered my commitment to the team and being able to cheer for meaningful games at the end of the year has been a lot of fun. This year, however, there are many concerns for the Reds as they enter the playoffs, not the least of which is that the team has limped to the finish line, losing their last five games. As any baseball fan knows, it’s not the best team who wins the World Series, it’s the team who gets hot at the right time. For the Reds, the end of the year let down comes at the absolute wrong time. After yesterday’s final regular season game, though, there was an optimistic attitude. When asked about his team’s concerning slide, manager Dusty Baker commented, “What you did previously, it doesn’t matter. What you didn’t do previously doesn’t matter. Now you start the season all over.“
You could say that there’s a certain grace that comes with the playoffs. There’s a fresh start, an opportunity for redemption. What’s happened in the past is of no consequence to the future. I imagine this reality brings liberation. Hopefully the Reds will take advantage of this, play loose, and continue to advance.
So often we can let the failures of the past taint our present. We live in guilt, what we did and didn’t do playing over and over again in our minds. Satan, that dastardly accuser, loves to condemn us, beat us down, and remind us how much we don’t deserve to be free. You know what? He’s right. All things being equal, we have no right to claim any of God’s promises, live in freedom or experience good things. Our sin should have disqualified us from ever moving forward. We should’ve paid for our crimes and been repeatedly shamed for our rebellion against God. The perfect law of God pronounced our guilt and there’s nothing we could ever do to be free of it.
That’s why we need grace.
In grace, Jesus took upon himself all of my sin and guilt. The consequences of who I was, and what I did and didn’t do were applied to him. My sentence of death was read over him. Nothing could free me except grace. Nothing could give me redemption except grace. Nothing could wipe the slate clean except grace. Nothing could provide a fresh start except grace. We are released from what we did and didn’t do because God set his grace upon us. Each day we “start the season all over” because yesterday is behind us and we’re able to live in the freedom that God intends. All because of grace. So, go Reds and thank you, Lord, for your awesome grace.