April 11, 2013

Bullies and Baseball

This is how my son felt in the presence of a boy, who I'll call Jason, when my son attended public school.  He dreaded spending time in the same room as Jason.  My son isn't unpopular, but Jason found it necessary to pick and poke, making my son feel like Jason hated him for no reason.  He was thankful for the reprieve summer vacations awarded him from Jason's torment.

Every year since he was 5 years old, my son has played Little League baseball.  And every year, he has ended up on the same team as Jason.  Which means that every year, my son HATES Little League.  He's not a particularly sporty boy to begin with, but he dreads performing in front of both his friends and the boys like Jason, because he knows that Jason will pick on him for his lack of skills.

This year, though, when we went to Little League try-outs, Jason and his family were nowhere to be seen.  We surmised that perhaps they had moved away.  Or maybe they just weren't playing this year.  At my son's first team practice, he found that two of his good friends are on his team this year.  While he still doesn't want to play, because he doesn't care for the sport and doesn't want his friends to think he's bad at it, he at least was happy to spend time with them.

Sitting in our truck at our son's second practice, with the windows rolled down, because the sun shone and the temperature hit 70, we watched his teammates gradually arrive at the field.  Our son had spent the day with his grandfather and had not yet arrived.  We watched his teammates tease each other as boys do.  Then we heard one of them say, "Isn't Jason coming to practice again today?"  Not five minutes later, Jason arrived.

My heart sank.  I looked at my husband and said, "Are you kidding me?!?!"

Our son has been playing Little League for 5 years.  What are the chances he gets put on the same team as this boy who torments him so?  Every.  Single. Year.

To begin with, I told my son how sorry I was that he had to be in that situation again.  I told him I couldn't believe his bad luck.  I tried to make him feel better about it by telling him that maybe Jason has changed.

But the more I've pondered it, the more I think... what are the chances my son gets put on the same team as this boy who torments him so, every single year?

We Christians believe nothing happens without reason.  God has a purpose for everything under the sun.  I can't help but think He has a purpose for placing my son with this boy every year, despite the crazy odds against it.  Jason isn't a Christian.  My son is.  And we're trying to teach him how to act and speak in ways that are a witness to the good news of Christ.

Maybe those two boys are always on the same team because God is working in both their lives.  In my son, to be a Godly example, and in Jason, to experience Christ's love.

It has to be, because, what are the chances?

Fevers and Faith

Have you heard these quotes from the Bible?

"How much more valuable you are than birds!" ~Luke 12:24

"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, how much more will he clothe you?"  ~Luke 12:28

Meaning, of course, that if God cares so much for the birds of the air and the grass of the fields, He surely cares for us much more!  We were made in His likeness.  We are valuable to Him!

We tend to forget this.  We tend to turn to God in earnest only in the big things.  Good or bad, we turn to him when the big stuff of life happens.  We seek Him in our suffering over the loss of a loved one.  We praise Him when we get the new job that will allow us to finally pay our overdue bills.  We seek Him when our child is sick in a hospital bed.  We praise Him when a baby is born healthy and brings joy to the family.

But what about the small stuff?

I was reminded yesterday that God cares so much for us He even looks after our small stuff.

Awakened at 4am with stomach pain, I laid awake for two hours wondering when it would go away.  But at 6am, it worsened.  I felt like I was lying in a snow bank, naked, in Antarctica, in the middle of a snow storm.  I was that cold.  My body convulsed with bone-racking shivers.  I had a fever.  After a few minutes of shivering, my entire body began to ache, and my muscles cramped.  Every.  Single.  Muscle.  From my neck to my toes.  After 30 minutes, I gained the presence of mind to take some Tylenol.  After another 30 minutes, with no apparent effect from the Tylenol, and me in pain and tears, I cried out to God.

"God, make it stop.  Please,  make it stop."

And it stopped.  As soon as the words left my mouth, the bone-racking shivers left my body.  And I was able to relax my muscles.  Though the fever hadn't yet broke, and I still felt like an icicle, the pain and convulsing ended.

Of course, it would have ended eventually.  The Tylenol would have eventually kicked in, and the shivers slowly lessened.

But God cares about our small stuff.  He cared about my pain in that moment, and even knowing my pain would have gone away eventually, He cared enough for me to take it away when I asked.

You've heard the saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff."  It's not in the Bible, but it's no less true.

God's got this.