Although Dad never claimed to be a perfect man, I think he tried to provide me with instruction and opportunity beyond what he experienced himself. For me to demand or expect more than what he knew to give served only to deepen my sense of futility. If I wanted more, I realized I needed to look beyond my dad’s limitations and look to the only perfect Father.
After college I was given the opportunity to play professional baseball with a minor league team. During a night game, my third time at bat, I drove a ball deep into left-center field that flew past the fence for a home run. As I rounded third base, I glanced up into the crowd and smiled. Among the throng of ecstatic fans, I’m sure I saw a familiar face. Perhaps I imagined it, but if so its reality was certainly evident in a spiritual dimension. My Father was there. He was on His feet and pointing at me and nudging His winged companion. “That’s my son – taught him everything he knows.”
When the game was over, the coach gave his final words of instruction, and the team was dismissed to an enthusiastic crowd of family, friends and fans. Later as I walked to my car, I could almost feel my Father’s arm around me. I felt Him say, “Good game son, I’m proud of you.”
I laughed aloud and tried to restrain the big ridiculous grin that radiated from my face.
“Good hit but remember the ball you missed in the third inning? Father said with a smile. “Try getting lower to the ground next time.”
“Thanks Dad…next game?” I asked.
“I’ll be there,” He spoke with assurance.
I’ve been a pastor for over a decade. Except for an occasional church picnic, my baseball days are now long gone. I’m not as fast, and I can’t hit or throw the ball as far as I once did. But nearly every time I pick up a bat or ball, I think of the little boys and girls in the congregation. I wonder if they are aware of who is watching them from the stands. I wonder if they know that even if Mom or Dad is there, or whether one lives on the other side of the country, the Father watches them with great admiration and pride.
As for my daughters, they’re a lot like me. They’re far from perfect, and they hit a lot more foul balls than home runs. I think I learned to cheer for all their hits and let them know I love them and approve of them just for stepping up to the plate.
Giving your heart to others by listening to their heart
When you grow a leader who values people you help the whole world