OK, I’ve never really played sports at a serious level. But I’ve played on volleyball and softball teams. I’ve managed a little league team.
I’ve done stuff!
And whenever I’ve had the opportunity to wear a number, I’ve worn 27. And I’m convinced it’s a God thing, although like many God things, that wasn’t obvious at first.
This story starts in 1980, with an event called the Mariel Boatlift. It was an extraordinary effort by freedom-yearning Cubans to escape their communist hellhole and experience liberty in the United States. To do this, hundreds of them boarded rickety boats, many of which were barely seaworthy, in a mad dash across shark-infested waters – destination Miami.
I was just a young teen at the time, but I was riveted by their story. I wondered about the ones who didn’t make it – if they’d have thought the risk was worth taking. In most cases, I suspect so, but there’d never be a way to ask them.
The boatlifters became heroes of sorts to me, even though I knew nothing about any of them – with one exception: A young Cuban ballplayer named Barbaro Garbey, who made it to Miami, signed with my very own Detroit Tigers.
Garbey took four years to make it to the majors, but when he did, it was just in time for the Tigers’ magical world championship season of 1984. And when Garbey made the team out of spring training that season, he was given number 27.
I was a freshman in college that year and my dorm floor had a softball team. I was really into Garbey’s story, so even though he was nowhere near the superstar status of Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris or Lance Parrish, I wanted to wear Garbey’s number on the softball team.
I became number 27.
It pretty much stuck from there. Maybe I liked the symmetry of the number, but for whatever reason, I wore it whenever I could after that. But that’s all it was – just a number I happened to hook on with at a point in time, and that I clung to over the years out of familiarity if nothing else.
Until one day in 2012.
Early one morning in late fall, I was in my driveway praying. I checked the time on my phone, and it was 6:27. The temperature was 27. My phone battery was at 27 percent (that’s what I get for not charging it overnight).
Oh, and the date was November 27. That was some collection of coincidences, wasn’t it? But it didn’t seem like much more than that until I headed off to the gym. When I got there, I noticed that my gas gauge was low, so I thought I should check and see how many miles I had until empty.
All right. Now I was pretty sure the Lord was directing me to something and I should be listening. As I closed my eyes and tried to discern what was in my spirit, I felt led to read Psalm 27. So I did.
I don’t even know how to summarize what this brought forth in my life. To tell you everything Psalm 27 has taught me, revealed to me and shaped in me would take many, many posts here. And if you stick around that will happen – to your benefit as well as to mine.
But I’ll say this right now: Psalm 27 is a psalm of David that uses events in the natural world to illustrate what happens in the spirit realm, and how we’re to deal with it. The enemies it references aren’t really armies of the natural world. The pavilion where the Lord hides us is a place you enter in your spirit. The false witnesses are not people, although they pose as them sometimes. Most of the battle goes on in your subconscious, and you’re not even really aware of it – until you learn to be.
I believe God knew in 1980 that, in 2012, I would be ready for Him to open up Psalm 27 to me. So he used Barbaro Garbey to get my attention and orient me to that number, so that I’d really be open to the leading I would receive that day.
Why 27? That’s why. It’s near the top of every page of this web site. And it’s top of my mind and heart every day. And the themes in Psalm 27 will permeate much of what we discuss here.
Strap in for the ride!