Following Monday night’s playoff loss to the Giants’, longtime Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox stood on the dugout steps and waved goodbye to the hometown Atlanta fans. Following a career of 29 years as a major league manager—25 of them with the Braves—Cox stepped down to the cheers and tears of players, fans, and even broadcasters who wanted to acknowledge Cox’s contribution to the game. The 90s will always be remembered as the decade when Cox’s Braves dominated the National League East, the shining era in a career that saw Cox’s teams win 14 straight division championships, five National League championships, and the 1995 World Series. But, Monday night he said goodbye—and next year a new baseball era will open up in Atlanta.
Such is life. We work and move and act and do, but in the end we say goodbye and someone else steps in to take our place. It is true in all of our jobs. Eventually we move aside. Earlier this year, it was longtime Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden’s turn, and, this year, Jimbo Fisher has the Seminoles ranked in the top 25. Time will tell what the next chapter looks like for the Atlanta Braves, but one thing is certain—it will look very different without Bobby Cox in the dugout.
In 2 Timothy 4, Paul said his goodbye after a lifetime of serving Christ. Unlike Bowden or Cox, his achievements were not marked by championships or statistical accomplishments. His record, however, is one that every follower of Christ could aspire to. As he reflected on his years of service, he wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, words that have become the standard for faithfulness in following Christ:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
In those words are Paul’s goodbye—and they are as candid as they are inspirational. He shares that it was not always easy, but he hung in there to the end. He shares that he endured and abided, but it was not without reward. Because his commitment had been to honor the Father, his reward would not be measured in record books or championship pennants, but in the approval of the God he loved. A crown of righteousness awaited him, and he offers us encouragement that one awaits us as well. By God’s grace and with His help, may we live in such a way that, when it is our time to say goodbye, we can thankfully and confidently anticipate our heavenly Father’s words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In that day, as the old gospel song says, “it will be worth it all.”
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain