When you live in the country you sometimes have to figure out ways to entertain yourself. There’s not always someone around to play with you.
I used to stand on the south side of our house and toss a baseball up and hit toward the pole barn about 50 yards away. I made up a game where a hard ground ball was a single and if it rolled to barn it was a double. If the ball hit the barn it was a triple and of course if it cleared the peak roof of the barn I got to touch all the bags for a homer. I’d usually pretend that Koufax or Gibson or Bunning was pitching to me and of course I was always a Yankee.
One day with the bases juiced and Sandy Koufax pouring fastballs at me I made perfect contact and the ball easily cleared the barn roof. I rounded the make believe bases and heard the cheers of the make believe capacity crowd. After crossing home plate I took the long walk around the barn to recover my baseball. It wasn’t in the gravel in front of the barn or in the road just above the barn. I knew it was well hit and I knew it had to roll all the way into the wheat field that was only a couple of months from harvest time. The wheat was waist high and still pretty green. I figured I’d find the ball easily since it was mostly white and the wheat was mostly green. No such luck. I looked for an hour and when Dad got home he helped me look for almost another hour.
This was my only baseball, this was a big deal and my Dad knew that. Finally, he said; “you know I believe we’re supposed to pray about everything, so let’s pray that we find this baseball.” And, that’s what we did. We sat on a big tractor tire and Dad prayed that we’d find our ball because it was the only one we had. After he prayed we walked back out in the wheat field and looked some more. We didn’t find the ball that evening. It didn’t shake our faith or cause us to give up on prayer. We figured it just wasn’t mean to be.
In mid-September I walked up the lane from the school bus and saw Dad and the combine out in that field. He shut down the machine and climbed out of it and walked over to the lane. In his hand was a nasty, black and mildewed baseball, the very same one that looked so pretty against the blue sky back in late June. Dad smiled and said; “next time we’ll be more specific when we pray, we’ll say we kind of need our ball back today.”
I thought of that a couple weekends ago when my 10 year old son Will lost something important to him. When Will got baptized this year he got a gold cross like the one in the picture above. It marks the occasion of him making the most important faith decision he’ll every make. It was a gift to celebrate that decision and to serve as a reminder of that day. I wear mine all the time, Jack does too. But, Will doesn’t like to have it on when he swims, so he took it off and laid it on the table we sit around on the dock. When he was ready to go back in the house he reached for the cross and it slipped through his fingers, through the mesh table and slipped through a crack in the dock and into the lake. I can still see his wide eyes as he feared he’d lost this important gift forever.
We spent almost an hour under the dock. The sun was setting and our chances of finding this cross in the dark water were not good. Momma remembered that we have some goggles and a flashlight that works under water so with children’s goggles tight around my head and an underwater flashlight we looked and looked and felt the lake bottom hoping our fingers would hook onto the chain of Will’s cross. The water was only two or three feet deep.
Amy said it first; “let’s say a prayer that we find this cross and that we find it before it gets to dark to see or the moving dirt covers up the cross for good.” That is a specific prayer. I held my breath, turned on the flashlight and Amy held my head under water (something I know she’s always wanted to do) because it was hard to stay down close to the bottom. I believe it was the third or fourth dive when I saw 4 or 5 small links of chain sticking out of the dirt and now Will’s cross is back safely around his neck. It might fall behind the dresser or under the bed, but I’m guessing it will never be near the lake again.
Good lessons for a 10 year old boy and for his Mom and Dad too.
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