Game 7 of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was one of the most exciting games ever played—not just because of a combined 176 seasons without championships between the two cities, but because of the back-and-forth nature of both Game 7 and the series as a whole.
In the seventh inning while leading 6–3, the Cubs hoped bringing in the dominant relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman to get the final outs would seal the victory for the Cubs and break their longtime curse. An Indians double and a two-run home run later, and the game was tied. Cleveland had the momentum, and Cubbie faithful had the all too familiar ‘here-is-where-the-wheels-fall-off’ and ‘the curse is still alive’ despair.
Then providence intervened: the rain picked up, and the Progressive Field grounds crew rolled out the rain tarp onto the field, forcing players, managers, and fans alike to wait anxiously for the 10th inning of the tie game to continue.
Sensing deflated and even defeated spirits in the Cubs’ dugout, Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward called his team together to passionately exhort them to ‘remember who you are.’ Heyward reminded the Cubs of their identity as the best regular season team in baseball, as victors in two other rounds of the playoffs, and as a team that came back from a three games to one deficit in the series to force a Game 7. It was their game to win as much as it was to lose.
Invigorated and inspired by a fresh dose of truth, the Cubbie bats rallied for two go-ahead runs in the top of the 10th, with RBI hits by soon-to-be-crowned World Series MVP Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero. The Cubs could have accepted inevitable defeat, but instead charged ahead, fueled by the truth of who they were, and they won their first World Series in 108 years.
Remembering who you are—in Christ
Several years ago, while talking with a pastor about a particular sin struggle, I was reminded to ‘remember who I was’ in Christ—and I’ll admit, it sounded hokey. I know who I am, I just can’t change my behavior or thinking. Give me advice that really helps me! What my pastor meant was that I needed to lean into my glorious identity as a new creation in Christ, loved by the Father, indwelt by the Spirit, and freed from sin—understanding that more deeply would help me grow in holiness.
Past failures, current struggles, or future unknowns may overwhelm us—but we are not helpless, we are exactly the opposite. We are justified sinners, adopted children, and new creations with the power to say “no” to temptation and “yes” to holiness by the grace of God (Titus 2:11–14). We either fail to truly believe these truths or fail to understand how it should transform us.
As my understanding of my identity in Christ grew over time along with a deeper understanding of grace, ‘remembering who I was’ no longer felt hokey—it felt powerful.
- When the enemy whispers thoughts of condemnation in my ear, I look to my identity in Christ as a justified sinner, and shout for joy that there “is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
- When tempted to wander back into sinful attitudes and actions, I look to my identity as holy in Christ from before time began (Ephesians 1:4), and remember that sin fights against God’s good purposes in creating me.
- When tempted to make excuses for my lack of self-control, I look to my identity as a sinner freed from sin’s power, rebuke my unbiblical thinking, and draw near to Christ who has given me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
- When I feel alone and powerless, I look to my identity as a man united to Christ by faith, and remember not only that He is always with me (Matthew 28:20), but also that His power is perfected in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
Transformed to live in God’s power
When discouragement, fear, and cowardice overwhelmed young Timothy, Paul reminded him of the power we have in Christ, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Any experience of fear should have been a red flag for Timothy, spurring him to trust that God had equipped him for every battle he faced. The challenge of the battle is still there, but our true identity motivates to press on in God’s power and overcome.
Jason Heyward’s one ‘remember who you are’ speech will be part of Cubbie lore for years to come, but we have the glorious opportunity to make its key truth impact our lives every day.
You are a new creation in Christ. You are forgiven by God. You are adopted into His family and call Him Father. You are free from the bondage of sin and equipped to live in righteousness.
May these truths remind you of who you are and propel you forward in disheartening times.