The life, faith, and death of Vin Scully and our longing for God

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The life, faith, and death of Vin Scully and our longing for God

August 3, 2022 - Dr. Jim Denison

FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, file photo, Los Angeles Dodgers' Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully puts his headset on prior to a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in Los Angeles. Scully, whose dulcet tones provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night, Aug. 2, 2022, the team said. He was 94. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, file photo, Los Angeles Dodgers' Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully puts his headset on prior to a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in Los Angeles. Scully, whose dulcet tones provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night, Aug. 2, 2022, the team said. He was 94. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Vin Scully died on August 2 at the age of ninety-four. He called games for the Los Angeles Dodgers for sixty-seven seasons. Many consider him the greatest baseball announcer of all time.

His story reads like a great American novel. Scully was born in 1927 in the Bronx, New York. He served two years in the Navy, then attended Fordham University, where he played briefly on the baseball team and called baseball, basketball, and football games for the local radio station.

One month before he graduated in 1949, he got a job with the CBS affiliate in Washington. The next year, the legendary broadcaster Red Barber brought Scully in as the Dodgers’ No. 3 broadcaster. At the age of twenty-five, he became the youngest broadcaster to call a World Series game when the Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees in 1953.

When Barber left to work for the Yankees in 1953, Scully took over as the Dodgers’ primary announcer. He called some of the most memorable events in baseball history: Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, Bill Buckner’s error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

“I had a child’s dream”

However, it was Vin Scully’s faith that we should especially remember with gratitude today.

A devout Catholic, he often said his faith helped him cope with the deaths of his first wife, Joan, from an accidental medical overdose, and the death of his son Michael in a helicopter accident. When he was honored at Dodger Stadium in 2016, his final season with the team, he mentioned his childhood dream of being a sports broadcaster.

Then he said, “I had a child’s dream, and the grace of God not only gave me the fulfillment of my dream, he gave it for sixty-seven years.”

Part of his signoff for his final Dodgers broadcast included this message:

May God give you for every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer. 

“So pants my soul for you, O God”

Vin Scully’s faith sustained him across many hard places and a very long career. This is not because of the strength of his faith, but its source.

We can take the wrong medicine while having faith that we are taking the right medicine, but it will still make us sick. We can be on the wrong road while having faith that we are on the right road, but we’ll still be lost.

God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26) for a personal relationship with himself. The psalmist spoke for us all: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1–2).

As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” St. Augustine spoke for all of us when he said to God, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (Confessions 1.1).

When we seek to fill our hunger for God with anyone or anything but God, we are still hungry and our hearts are still restless.

How to fill our “infinite abyss”

Blaise Pascal (1623–62) explained why. Pascal was a true genius, developing the first digital calculator, the syringe, and the hydraulic press while laying the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities. His understanding of human experience was as brilliant as his scientific expertise.

In the Pensees, he observed: “All men seek happiness. There are no exceptions. However different the means they may employ, they all strive towards this goal. The reason why some go to war and some do not is the same desire in both, but interpreted in two different ways. The will never takes the least step except to that end. This is the motive of every act of every man, including those who go and hang themselves.”

He asked, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?” Then he responded to his question: “This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.”

Pascal concluded: “God alone is man’s true good, and since man abandoned him, it is a strange fact that nothing in nature has been found to take his place: stars, sky, earth, elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, plague, war, famine, vice, adultery, incest. Since losing his true good, man is capable of seeing it in anything, even his own destruction, although it is so contrary at once to God, to reason and to nature” (Pensees 425).

“Our shelter from the stormy blast”

You may not be as legendary as Vin Scully in the eyes of society, but your soul matters to God as much as if you were the only person who had ever lived. His Spirit is ready to fill the “infinite abyss” that only he can fill.

However, he honors the freedom he has given us. If anyone opens the door of their heart, Jesus will “come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

But only then.

Isaac Watt’s familiar hymn captures the prayer I believe God wants us to offer to him today:

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home. 

Vin Scully is now in his eternal home. So will we be one day, if Jesus is our Lord. In the meantime, our Lord wants us to be at “home” with him in our hearts as we make him our king and Lord.

Is your heart at home with your Father today?

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