I wasn’t always a baseball fan, but it has won me over. Rather, my husband’s and son’s love for the game, won me over. I have come to appreciate that despite the snail’s pace of an overall game, there is a tremendous amount of strategy and finesse to drafting, lineup, fielding and hitting. And with each player, there is a personality and a character that is part of each team.
My team is the Atlanta Braves. I have always cheered for them, but I consider myself now to be a fan – a level up from a cheering supporter. A fan watches games, doesn’t just ask the score of a past game or one in progress. A fan sticks with them when they stink. A fan believes their team can, and one day will, do great things. A fan knows a little back-story on the people and the organization that make up the team. A fan knows a bit about the personalities and idiosyncrasies of the players.
Joc Pederson is a newer Brave having only been in Hotlanta for a few months. It didn’t take long for him to make his mark, and now he is earning press for his latest choice in jewelry. In the game of baseball, we have seen neck chains, small, large and mega – diamonds and no diamonds, charms and no charms, but until now, we haven’t seen pearls on a baseball player. Joc has been adorning himself with the small white balls for a few weeks now – since the game when the Braves clinched the National League East. Now two of my favorites are married. The Braves and pearls.
Forever a pearl fan, particularly with grandparents who owned a jewelry store, their origin gives me a special fascination for them. Pearls are born from living organisms (mussels, clams, oysters or occasionally conchs) that encounter an irritant. God has given these mollusks the ability to deal with the irritant in such a way that not only are they able to make smooth the thing that irritates them, but they do so in such a way that it creates something beautiful! Their pain is our gain! And pearls take YEARS to reach full beauty! Not only do these mollusks have to deal with their disruption and discomfort for years, they also need someone else to remove it from them. They cannot expel the pearl themselves. I wonder how long these little guys were around making beautiful things before anyone knew or appreciated?
We are told in God’s Word that pearls have special value. In Matthew 13:45-46, we are told that a man sold everything that he owned so that he could purchase a pearl of great value. EVERYTHING THAT HE OWNED! For a PEARL! It must have been some pearl! Now Jesus was using this pearl as an analogy for how valuable the good news of His matchless love for us is – this love that provides us with the gift of spending eternity with Him. But He compares that indescribable, beautiful, loving gift to a pearl! Then in Revelation 21:21, the holy city in heaven has 12 gates, each made out of a single pearl! I would say that these are a creation that God was particularly pleased with. I feel the way that pearls come to be illustrates James 1:12:
Blessed is the one who remains steadfast through trials and temptations because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life which has been promised to those who love Him.
We enter the pearl gate to receive a crown! The irritants of this life, He gives us the grace to handle, so that beautiful things come out of it, even when we don’t see or experience the beauty the way others might. I know this to be true because on occasion, others’ pain has given me gain: through perspective, through seeing Jesus carry them through, through my being blessed by their sacrifice – maybe the ultimate sacrifice. Sometimes the irritants are there for years. But one day Jesus will take the irritant away, and exchange it for a crown!
So whether in the game of baseball, or life, if you see a Joc sporting their pearls, remember that Jesus can take our worst and make it beautiful, and that one day, those who love Him will exchange the pearl for the crown of joy.