Last Thursday, word began to slip out of the annual baseball winter meetings that a huge free agent signing had taken place. As the day progressed, it became clear that, in fact, two big signings had occurred—both by the Los Angeles Angels. First, arguably baseball’s best player, St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols signed for over $250 million dollars. Then, left-hander C. J. Wilson, the best available free agent pitcher, signed with the Halos. These signings have the potential of shifting baseball’s balance of power in the American League, as well as in southern California where the Angels are seeking to overtake the Dodgers as LA’s top team. These massive announcements generated mixed emotions, and rightly so. For Angels’ fans, there was an explosion of joy. For Cardinals’ fans, there was a feeling of despair and betrayal. For general managers of opposing teams, there was envy in the ability of Angels’ GM Jerry DiPoto to be able to make such sweeping deals. For other major league players, there was the hope that someday their big payday might come. For many causal fans, there was utter disgust at the seemingly obscene amount of money being thrown around in these two contracts. Without question, mixed emotions marked out the day of big names, big money, and big signings.
The apostle Paul expressed a time when he also had mixed emotions—but mixed emotions of a very different kind born of very different motivation. While in prison, Paul wrote to the church at Philippi and said:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. (Phil.1:21-24)
Mixed emotions. Paul’s great desire was to be with Christ, yet he also felt the pull of deep internal pressure created by the spiritual needs of his friends. He felt the strong pull of his desire to minister to them, yet the tug on his heart to be in the presence of the Savior. Those are the kind of mixed emotions that are touched by the eternal—and the kind we would do well to model. If our passions and longings are all consumed by the present tense, we may feel we are single-minded, but not in a way that is wise. A hearty hunger for the presence of Christ can give us the best kind of mixed emotions—challenging us to serve one another, but pulling us to be with Him.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain