Monday, June 27, 2016

Playgrounds and Baseball

Tis the season of playgrounds and baseball! The weather has been beautiful for most of the lasts few weeks and I’m seeing children swinging on swings, climbing on monkey bars and sliding down slides in the local parks and playgrounds. Those not on the playground are on the baseball diamonds on every municipal field in sight. It’s wonderful to see kids out and playing.

It reminds me of my own son in his baseball cap swinging with all his intensity to hit the ball. I know in his mind’s eye that ball was sailing over the fences even if in reality it never made it past the infield. He wasn’t a superstar and if he had lived I’m sure he would have never become a professional baseball player. He was an average player—no outstanding stats one way or the other. He once received a trophy for being the boy on his team who loved the game the most. As his coach pointed out when he handed Bryan the trophy – “no one loved the game more than he did” and that thought makes me smile.

It also reminds me of the day that my then ten-year-old Bryan broke his elbow by falling off a slide on the playground. In trying to relay the seriousness of the injury, the orthopedic surgeon described it as "the worst kind of break a kid could have." Bryan had two metal pins, four inches of stitches, and a hard cast for a month. The day the surgeon removed the pins and the stitches, I held my son still and watched as the doctor yanked the metal pins out of my baby’s arm with pliers and then rip the stitches out in one long drawn out agonizing tug, all without the aid of a pain killer. Bryan was screaming. I’m usually a non-aggressive person, but I’ll tell you, my blood was boiling and I nearly punched the man in the face for hurting my son.

The surgeon told me that he was unsure of how much mobility Bryan would have when it was all over. The toughest conversation I ever had with my little boy was to tell him that there was a chance that he would never play baseball again. As tears welled up in his eyes, he asked me if he worked really hard at the exercises the doctor gave him, would that help him be able to play. All I could tell him was that there was a chance, if he worked very hard, he would be able to play ball again. But if he didn’t work hard, he absolutely wouldn’t be able to ever play baseball again. Not the encouraging answer I wanted to give him, or the one he wanted to hear, but it was the truth and he needed to be told.

Bryan held onto that hope of "a chance" and worked as hard as he could. His elbow had healed and stiffen at the 90-degree angle it had been casted in. One of the rehab exercises consisted of me applying pressure on his arm to help him straighten it. I remember him pleading with me to push down harder as tears streamed down his face from the pain. It took all I had to push harder and inflict more of the healing pain he needed to recover his mobility.

As I loved Bryan, so God loves me and even more. As my Heavenly Father, He loves me with a fierce devotion even greater than the one I had for my son. He loves me as I am. Even if I don't stick out in the crowd, His eye is drawn to me. When I’m hurt, He hurts and rushes to comfort me. When I’m happy, He shares in the joy. There is an unbreakable bond between us that goes far beyond responsibility and emotion. 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

He will always reveal the truth to me, even if it is something I don't want to hear. He loves me so much that He will do whatever is necessary, even if it is allowing painful circumstances in my life, so that I may receive all the good things he has planned for me.

When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. John 16:13

 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

As I look back over the past few years, I can see a time or two in my life where His heart must have broken over the painful circumstances he allowed to occur in my life. I can imagine Him feeling my pain as if it were His own so that I could have what He wants most for me – a better understanding of who He is, a greater love for Him, and an ever deepening relationship with Him. 

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