There’s something so ‘summery’ about sitting in the stands of a baseball game…at least in America. The summery things in the rest of the world must be pretty glorious, too. But when I think of summer, this is what comes to mind: swimming, corn on the cob, grilled burgers and chicken, peaches, blackberries, lightening bugs, fresh cut grass, flip flops, and baseball games.
My husband and his family are from Cincinnati, Ohio. It took me a year or two to learn to love some of the local favorite foods like Skyline Chili. It took me longer to learn to spell the name of his home city. ( Actually, I’m still working on that if I’m being honest here. ) But it didn’t take me anytime at all to learn to love going to Cincinnati Reds’ baseball games. ( Even for this southern girl who grew up doing the Tomahawk Chop for the Braves every time they’d come on T.V. )
My in-laws took us to a Reds’ game one steamy summer night at the Great American Ball Park. The rain kept most of the crowds at home that evening, but not us. We decided to risk it. The stadium workers diligently wiped down the chairs and we parked ourselves with our first round of chilidogs and popcorn. No one in our family goes to these games strictly for the sport. ( Although, my father-in-law does love to watch the game more than any of us! ) We go for the experience. It’s the anticipation that comes when the cameras scan the crowds to see if you’ll be on the jumbotron. It’s the shouts of “Popcorn! Peanuts! Ice Cold Drinks!” that come from the concession sellers that roam the aisles. It’s the dissolving of cotton candy in your mouth. It’s the statistic fanatics who pull out their clipboards to keep score. It’s the kids who bob and weave to catch the free t-shirts or foul balls. It’s the cheers that come when a grand slam brings all the baserunners home. It’s the community that forms when the seventh inning stretch comes around, while the entire stadium sways and sings along to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
That drizzly June night at the Reds’ game, our seats were high in the rafters. Not quite to the tip-top, but high enough for a bird’s eye view. It was refill time for our family. My father-in-law had gone to get some treats. Then, I filed out to follow my own sweet tooth. My husband and my mother-in-law saved the seats. I caught my husband’s eye and motioned to let me get a picture of him with his mom. As I looked through the screen of my phone, I noticed more than their faces. I stopped and looked up. From each vantage point, person-by-person, our family shifted our gazes above the game. There was a full rainbow over the entire stadium, stretching from the Ohio River across close to where the Great American Insurance building stood. The arch of colors was stunning and had appeared ever so quietly above all the activity below.
God has a way of using His rainbow in the sky to send whispers to the soul. Many people try to pervert the purity of this symbol sent from God. Yet, rainbows appear to remind every person they stretch over of the power, majesty, and knowledge that is above all that is below.
I perched myself at the top of our section that evening to try to capture the glory of what I saw. As I poised my camera, I noticed that other people started breaking their concentration from what was below to look up to what was over them. One by one, faces lifted from the intensity of watching how each play below would work out, to see something greater above. It was as if God was walking through the rafters, speaking to individuals.
What starts with bated breath can end with deep inhalations of the intimate God of the universe.
That night, I noticed that God was whispering to the entire stadium—scratch that— the entire city— person-by-person. He was talking to all of us, whispering at first, then louder than all the noise in the end. His voice spoke color into the atmosphere that evening. His skywriting beckoned people to see more than all that kept them anxious within their immediate view. He invited individuals to join a conversation far greater than the announcements and pronouncements of the game below. He called them to listen. All He asked was that the people He whispered to would look up, higher than the anxiety-filled anticipation of what was right in front of their faces. He wanted to show the people of that place more. He wanted to tell the individuals of the crowd more.
Whether you’re participating in the game or spectating in the stadium, there’s more to be seen and heard than that which is causing you to hold your breath as you watch to see how things will play out. There is a whisper, a personal whisper that invites you to look up and see the majesty over the game, the crowds, and the unknowns belonging to where you are in the stadium.
Only those who look up tune in to hear God’s promises, whispered to each person, yet stamped in the sky as an open invitation to shift gazes. When a person lifts their eyes in response to these whispers, he begins to see, hear, and believe One is greater than all the activities below.
Are you watching the game so closely that you miss the rainbow?
Are you so focused on the plays and runs that you miss the whisper?
Look up, dear friend, look up.
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:13, NIV)