We all knew it was coming at some point, but Derek Jeter did not want to believe it. He announced at the beginning of this year that this season would be his last. And so, the Derek Jeter farewell tour began. However, even Jeter did not realize how real it was until the last few weeks of the season. This evening, he almost came to tears in front of an entire stadium of fans admitting it. When the game was over, he ran back to his spot on the infield where he played shortstop since 1995. Now it is 2014. It is time to say goodbye.
Derek Jeter just played his last game in Yankees Stadium. He won the game with a RBI single creating yet another memory that will last for years, among his sixth all time hits record, five World Series rings, and solidified place on the Yankees Pantheon of gods.
I grew up with Derek Jeter. I am 29 years old. He broke onto the scene when I was only ten. I did not even care about baseball then.
Then, as he carved out his place in baseball history over the next 20 seasons, I grew up with him. It progressed from elementary school, to high school, to college, to finding Christ, to working in the Bronx, to owning an auto repair shop, to getting married, to starting a new job. I went through so many life stages. Meanwhile Derek Jeter seemed to be a rock of Gibraltar.
He never changed! Jeter stayed on the same team, he kept hitting like a legend in important games, he never married or started a family, and his aging was imperceptible. As I kept changing and going through new stages in life at a pace where you might not even be comfortable knowing me, the Yankee Captain stood the same for his fans. Their lives changed, the world changed, but Derek Jeter remained the same.
I went to his final game with my best friend of 15 years.
We grew up with Derek Jeter and the championship teams. Couple this with the fact that the present Yankee team is pretty terrible and has no new young stars that have the same star power, we might not be able to share another moment like this for some time.
My friend is 30 years old and unmarried. I am a tad younger, married, but have no children. I cannot imagine what will change in the next 15 years. Not that long ago I was confused as a high school kid. I’m sure my friend was too. Now, as we both steadily age, there is no confusing such things. In the next 15 years we will find ourselves firmly in the middle age category.
This is natural. Time passes. But for many, we want to forget. We get caught up in our youth, or young adulthood, or the childhood of our kids, and just think it is going to last forever. But surely, these things change. We age. The kids move out. Nothing is stable.
However, Derek Jeter would have had you fooled for a long time, until his league-leading skills started rapidly declining last year. Not coincidentally, his youthful good looks gave way to a middle aged, rugged and handsome appearance. Jeter became more of a man, more like any one of us.
We don’t want to admit it and maybe he does not want to either, but it is time to end this chapter of our lives and time to start another. Eventually, the book ends for all of us.
We are afraid the next chapter won’t be as good. Some of us worry there will not be a next chapter. And, the memories we are making now will begin fading. Eventually, they will be forgotten. People after us will be living out their own stories. So, when average people like us are forgotten, maybe Derek Jeter will be remembered for a time. But eventually even the memory of him will fade away, and probably in his own lifetime.
In the movie Rocky IV, Apollo Creed reminded Rocky Balboa, “Nobody’s asking for autographs.” When Derek Jeter is an old man, he will find himself sitting down in a diner, with no one bothering him, remembering the days where he was mobbed. Eventually, when he is no more, he will be nothing more than statistics on the back of a collectible baseball card.
So, as I reflect on my experience this evening, Derek Jeter’s career, and my evolving friendship, I cannot help but pause and reflect on something greater: what is my own life? What does it mean in the end?
For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die (Ecc 2:16)!
My life is just a fleeting moment, a quick memory, here today and gone tomorrow like Derek Jeter’s career. What must my life consist of? Making a name for myself that will be forgotten anyway? Pursuing pleasures that do not last? Looking to those great men who appear impervious to change and ultimate demise, when in fact they are not?
I cannot help but feel totally convinced, there is no satisfaction in pursuing and cherishing the things that are temporary. If we want true completeness, we must pursue not that which perishes, but instead what lasts forever.
God alone is the beginning and the end. He is the only One who you can know and it means anything. Jesus Christ alone, who has no beginning nor end, has known me even before I was conceived before the foundations of the world were set, and will be with me when the world comes to its end and is replaced.
Knowing Christ is the only thing that is worth anything in the end. For, when I look into myself and see all my self-love, my idolatry of athletes and recreation, my pursuit of sinful satisfaction and how it profits me nothing in the end, I see that it is worse than even that! I am in debt to a just God, who if He is indeed just, will judge me according to my sin. If you sin against and infinite God, the punishment is infinite.
So, I look to God, in which there is no changing or shadow of turning. He endures forever. Only He can pardon me my iniquity. Only He can receive it on my behalf. And, it is He who I trust with my eternal destiny.
My childhood is gone. My young adulthood is fading. My friendship is changing. Derek Jeter will no longer be playing. The Yankees will one day disappear. But, I “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).