Saturday, June 1, 2013

Reflections from the Home Team, June 1, 2013

“When everything seems like it’s falling apart, that’s when God is putting things together just the way He wants it!”

Greetings from Cedar Falls,

I wanted to drop you all an update following some recent testing.  My blood counts have returned to the normal range, but I’ve had continued issues with the neck and jaw pain as well as some significant hip pain. Long story short, X-rays came back and show I have a severe case of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease in both hips which seems to have accelerated since treatments, and I’ll need to have both hips replaced. Guess all those years “behind the plate” are “catching” up with me. I’m planning to have the first surgery Tuesday, June 11and the second done midsummer if no complications so I can get back to enjoying the active life style I have grown accustomed to.  The better news is that the cancer remains in check as I was worried that my elevated counts following the virus I had this winter and the increased “pains” were a signal that the visiting team may have returned to my dugout.  Always on the mind, so when that happens, I turn to my favorite pastime of reading, particularly about those who have overcome challenges in their lives to make a positive difference for others.

God doesn’t waste any pitches when it comes to teaching you about life from the game of baseball. Baseball has taught me many lessons that I have applied to my life and more importantly, to my relationship with God. I have learned the lesson of “endurance” from my journey the past few years.  As a good friend recently shared, “hips wear out and can be replaced”, and that is a positive way to view this, so I will!  Endurance is defined as “the ability to bear pain or hardship, the strength to continue despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions.”  Not sure if the writer of that definition had being a cancer survivor or a Junior High Principal in mind when writing that, but I guess it fits both.  After viewing the recent release of the Movie “42” with my wife Tricia, I found it comforting to read all I could find about one of the baseball heroes that had inspired me during my cancer treatments, namely, Jackie Robinson. Talk about  ENDURANCE…Jackie Robinson was more than an athlete, he was a man.  He stood alone as he challenged and integrated modern Major League Baseball. His task was not easy as he suffered many mental and physical hurts. He accepted and overcame the slings, slams and insults so that young black athletes could dream of playing Major League Baseball.  I struggle in my reading with how he was treated so cruelly by other human beings because of the color of his skin. I don’t know of many who could have handled the insults and venom directed his way.  One thing that is often not written about or understood about Jackie is that he was a Christian, as was the Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager, Branch Rickey. When Rickey called Jackie to his office to discuss a  contract he spent three hours grilling Jackie, role playing an insulting fan, a mean spirited player, a snobby hotel manager, a rude head waiter, an condescending sports writer and a disrespectful teammate (all of which happened during his career). He told Jackie players would come at him with spikes up, throw at his head and he’d get called out on strikes by racist umpires.  When Jackie asked if he was looking for a player who was afraid to fight back, Rickey said; “Robinson, I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back!” You will symbolize a crucial cause, one incident; just one incident will set it back 20 years.” 

Rickey then reached for a book called The Life of Christ written by an Italian priest, Giovanni Papini.  Rickey expounded on Jesus teaching regarding an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth by sharing Father Papini’s thoughts that “to answer blows with blows, evil deeds with evil deeds is to meet the attacker on his ground.  Only he who has conquered himself can conquer his enemies.”  Rickey closed the book and faced Jackie asking, “Can you do it? I know you are naturally combative, but will you promise that for the first three years in baseball, you will turn the other cheek?  Three years, can you do it” Jackie replied, Mr. Rickey, I’ve got two cheeks.  If you want to take this gamble, I’ll promise you there will be no incidents.”  From the beginning, Jackie understood the impact he would make.  We will be forever indebted to Jackie Robinson for what he did and for what he ENDURED.  There is no doubt in my mind that his faith sustained him, and from that I have learned a great lesson which has helped carry me on my journey.

It is my hope that my journey can provide some comfort and encouragement for others who may be struggling to ENDURE hardships in their lives, just as Jackie Robinson’s journey impacted mine. Another good friend recently shared the following quote which has been a powerful reminder to me of how God’s plan for each of us works.  It reads; “When everything seems like it’s falling apart, that’s when God is putting things together just the way He wants it!”  I’m sure Jackie Robinson may not have always seen it this way through his experiences at the time, but with reflection, we can certainly see God’s plan at work by subjecting Jackie to these abuses during his Major League career and the impact his experience had in helping others achieve their dreams.

To close, I’ll keep you updated as I work through the surgeries this summer adding to my collection of “replacement parts”.  A verse from 1 Peter 3:15 brings me comfort as I work to ENDURE the next steps on my journey… “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Sincerely, Dave

Link to: Reflections from the Home Team BLOG

Link to Vimeo: Reflections from the "Home Team"... Go the Distance

Link to: Tommy Emmanuel and "Angelina"