Tag Archives: Cheer

Sleeping With the Enemy

Sleeping With the Enemy (CaD Hab 2) Wayfarer

“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
    pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
    so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!
You will be filled with shame instead of glory.
    Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed!
The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you,
    and disgrace will cover your glory.”

Habakkuk 2:15-16 (NIV)

I’ve always enjoyed being a fan of my favorite sports teams. There is something I love about the drama, the stories, the thrill of victories, and the agonies of defeat.

One of the things that have always fascinated me about sports fans is not only the fanaticism of loyalty and celebration to one’s own team but also the hatred and schadenfreude with which one gloats in a rival’s failure and demise. Likewise, there are always those moments when your team will only advance if a hated rival wins a certain game. My despised rival suddenly becomes a necessary tool for my team to ultimately succeed. It’s always a bit excruciating at the moment to find yourself wanting your enemy to win. It feels like the old cliche of sleeping with the enemy. Once it’s over, it feels kind of good when you can return to cheering for their annihilation, as if all is right with the world again.

Today’s chapter is the answer to the question Habakkuk posed to God in yesterday’s chapter. It was prompted by God revealing to the prophet that He was sending the Babylonian Empire to be a tool of punishment to his unrepentant people. The Babylonians were a proud, ruthless, and greedy empire. Habakkuk was aghast that God would use such an evil empire for His purposes.

God’s answer is an oracle of Babylon’s eventual doom. God’s people will be taken into exile for seventy years, but eventually, they will return and Babylonians will receive God’s justice. God’s pronouncement of Babylon’s doom comes in the form of five words of “woe,” which echoes the three-fold “woe” proclaimed over “Babylon the Great” in Revelations 18 that we read on this chapter-a-day journey last week.

But there’s another connection that came to mind as I read the prophetic pronouncement of doom. Specifically, God chastises the Babylonians for their drunken orgies, then says that their drunken shame will be exposed and “the cup from God’s right hand is coming around to you.”

One of God’s people who was taken into exile in Babylon was Daniel of the lion’s den fame. Late in his life, Daniel called before the Babylonian ruler Belshazzar as he and a thousand nobles were having a wine-soaked feast (“woe to him who builds his house with unjust gain” Hab 2:9). Belshazzar had golden cups stolen from Solomon’s temple brought to him so they could drink from them (“woe to him who piles up stolen goods” Hab 2:6). As they drank they praised all their Babylonian idols and deities (“woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’” Hab 2:19). Suddenly a hand appears and writes a cryptic message on the wall (this episode is the source of the term “the handwriting is on the wall”). Daniel is asked to interpret it. Daniel explains that it is God’s proclamation of Belshazzar’s doom. He dies that night and the Medes take over Babylon.

The “cup (of wrath) from the Lord’s right hand” came around just as God said it would through Habakkuk some 66 or so years before.

As I pondered God’s answer to Habakkuk regarding the use of the Babylonians for His purposes, I couldn’t help but think of that sports fan who has to endure watching the hated rival prevail in order for a greater purpose to be accomplished for their team. God’s message through Habakkuk was the assurance that the hated Babylonians would eventually experience the agony of defeat.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Same Song, Only Different

Same Song, Only Different (CaD Ps 53) Wayfarer

God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
    you put them to shame, for God despised them.

Psalm 53:5b (NIV)

Wendy and I really enjoy being fans. For us, the fun is in being loyal to our teams, following them, knowing the players, following the drama, cheering for them, and experiencing what ABC’s Wide World of Sports used to describe each week as “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

A few years ago we found ourselves feeling the emptiness in the depth of our Iowa winter. January through March always feels like a slog, but we realized that it was made worse for us because our Vikings’ season was over and it would be April before our Cubs’ would begin their annual campaign. For whatever reason, the NBA has never tripped our trigger. So, we decided it was time to join our son-in-law Clayton and give the English Premier League a shot.

We knew that for us the fun is in following a team, so we began researching the various teams in a search for the team to whom we would pledge our loyalty. It’s surprising how many resources there are on the internet for Americans trying to choose a Premier League team. In the end, we chose to become fans of Liverpool FC (Football Club). And, as silly as it sounds, the clincher for us was the song.

One of the endearing things about Premier League is the singing. During most pre-covid matches when the stands are packed you’ll hear the crowd singing. Not just a specific moment in the match, like singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the middle of the 7th Inning. Premier League fans often sing themselves hoarse through the entire match. There are typically different songs fans have for different players, and teams typically adopt a theme song.

Liverpool’s theme song is Gerry and the Pacemaker’s You’ll Never Walk Alone which also happens to be a song from the Broadway Musical Carousel. Wendy and I discovered this fact in our research and then pulled up a YouTube video of the Liverpool crowd singing it before a match. We got goosebumps, and it sealed the deal. Two Liverpool fans were born.

So, you might be wondering to yourself, “Where on earth are you going with this?” Well, if you’ve followed my blog and/or podcast for anything length of time you know that I’m fond of saying that God’s language is metaphor, and metaphor is layered with meaning. The song You’ll Never Walk Alone is a great example.

For many people like Wendy and me, the song has been forever tied to the musical Carousel. A teenager growing up in the early 1960s might never have known it was from a Broadway musical, but the version by Gerry and the Pacemakers might have tremendous emotional ties to a crush they had on a boy or girl, dancing cheek-to-cheek at a school dance, or listening with friends on a crackly AM car radio as you scooped the loop. Then Liverpool takes the same song and it becomes an anthem of solidarity, loyalty, and community for fans of their football club around the world.

For me, the most interesting thing about today’s chapter, Psalm 53, is that it is virtually identical to Psalm 14. If you put them side-by-side you’ll notice that it’s the same song, but verse 5 is different. Scholars believe that the nation took David’s original and co-opted it after a national victory over armies who had sought to destroy them as in the story found in 2 Chronicles 20 when they were unexpectedly attacked by the army of Edom. When David wrote the song to mean one thing during his life and his generation, but a subsequent generation took the same song, the same lyrics, and made it about another thing.

In the quiet this morning, it has me thinking about something I’ve frequently observed in my perpetual journey through the Great Story. Something that had little or no meaning for me thirty years ago might suddenly be powerfully important for me today at this waypoint on Life’s road. Things that meant one thing to me then might take on a whole new layer of meaning for me now. I’m so grateful to my mentors who taught me at the beginning of my spiritual journey that reading and studying the Great Story was not a one-and-done deal. “On it you shall meditate both day and night,” says Joshua 1:8, the very first verse I memorized when I was 15. And, that’s what I’ve tried to do, and it’s made an unfathomable difference in both my spiritual journey and my life journey.

The Great Story meets me where I am every morning. A verse, or chapter, or passage can help me frame my past, make sense of my present, and direct my course for the future all at the same time.

Thanks for walking with me this morning and reminding me that “I’ll never walk alone.”

Go Liverpool! 🙂

TBT: The Big Dance!

Tom Taylor Register State Tournament

It’s March and that means State High School Basketball tournament in Iowa. It’s our Big Dance. It’s a right of passage. Just this past week The Des Moines Register published a photo from waaaaay back at the 1983 girls basketball tournament. There I was in the back, arms raised in momentary triumph. About a quarter century later it was our daughter, Taylor, who made it onto the pages of the paper when they published a photo of her and friend, Andrew Lopez, cheering on the Pella Dutch.

So, for Throwback Thursday, here’s the Big Dance addition thanks to The Des Moines Register.