As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17
Friday night was a night of “firsts.”
- The First Game
- The First At-bat and Hit
- The First Run
- The First Sprint from First to Second to Third and Home
But perhaps the proudest moment of my son Graham’s first t-ball game was the moment his coach handed him his first uniform, a Kelly-green t-shirt with the name “WOOD” and the number “3” on the back. The front of the jersey read “MAIL MANAGERS”, the name of the team sponsor. Maybe if it read “Dodgers” or “Red Sox” it would have been more exciting to me. But the bold, block letters still identified the two-dollar t-shirt as a bonafide uniform and Graham couldn’t put it on fast enough.
He had dreamed of this moment for weeks, asking me daily, “When do I get my jersey?” You could hear in his voice that deep desire to belong to a team. Up until this point Graham could say he was on the team. But the uniform proved he belonged.
I told Graham two legacies of the #3 uniforms in baseball:
- It was the number worn by Dale Murphy, the legendary Atlanta Braves outfielder from the 1980s and 1990s. A great baseball player and an even greater person.
- The #3 was also worn by the Sultan of Swat himself, Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest player of all time. Graham’s uniform stood in line with some of the game’s legends.
His uniform would be worn with pride regardless of the number, but the legacy of #3 made it all the better.
But watching Graham’s joy in putting on his first uniform told me more about him as a person than it did as a player. Seeing my son’s excitement at donning that jersey showed me how much his little heart longed to belong to a team. I recognized it easily because it has always been in my own heart, too. I want to be on a team
Another way to say it is simply, “I don’t want to be left out and alone.”
It is a deeply rooted truth in all of us. We all long to belong to a group, a team, a family. It’s a part of being human. We all want that uniform that says “we belong.”
Just so you know, Graham played a great game on Friday night. But the pride I felt preceded his performance. Before he swung a bat or dropped a pop fly, I was proud just to see him out there.
And that’s the second lesson I learned about belonging. My joy doesn’t rise and fall with Graham’s ability to hit, run, catch, or throw.
My joy simply rests in the fact that he is my son.
It makes me think of Jesus, at his baptism, the day he put on the “uniform” of deity in a public manner for the first time. He had been born as “the Word made flesh,” but up until this moment, no one outside of Mary and John the Baptist understood it. There, at His baptism, Jesus let the world know just whose team he was really on – the three-fold team of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His obedience declared “I belong to God” and a voice came down from heaven saying, “This is my Son and in Him I am well-pleased.” That voice came before Jesus preached a single sermon or healed a single leper.
Before Jesus gave His life on the cross in final, full obedience…the Father said, “He belongs to me.”
Not because of what He did, but because of Who He was and Whose He was.
And so it is for us when we put on the uniform of faith.
Do you belong to God’s team?
Have you put on the uniform of faith?
Jesus is waiting – all you have to do is ask.
Written by Kevin Wood, Guest Contributor