On a recent evening, my wife Christina and I took our two youngest sons to watch a baseball game at Veteran’s Park in Peru. Three year old Sebastian is a real sports fan. One year old Ephram, on the other hand, is a much greater fan of the concession stand! We had been invited to the game by a friend of our family who volunteers as a coach for the kids who were playing the game. Sebastian was glued to the game as he sat high in the bleachers, cheering for the dedicated players. Once Ephram had grown weary of the game and ran out of popcorn, he and I took a walk to see what was happening at the other two baseball diamonds.
On one of the other fields there was a group of very athletic and talented young men playing baseball. The pitcher was throwing the hardball at great speeds, the batters swung their bats with impressive intensity, and the fielders pounced on ground balls as tigers do their pray. It was really a grand affair. On the next field there was a group of young women playing an equally forceful game of fast pitch softball. These two games went on while back at our game three year old Sebastian sat watching in his typical high spirited fashion, clapping for every hit, and bouncing excitedly when anyone on the field made or even attempted to make a play.
You see, three year old Sebastian, like the children on the field is a special needs child. The children playing in the game were kids five years and older who play in the local Challenger League. They were kids from across the full spectrum of developmental and physical disabilities. While their abilities and personalities were very diverse, they all had one thing very much in common. Just like the young men and women on the other fields, they came to play! In this game everyone got to hit the ball, everyone got to make it to first base, and everyone got to round the bases. I would venture to say that the level of enthusiasm, comradery, and sportsmanship on that field rivaled any other game taking place in any field anywhere.
That evening watching the gentle spirit of these ballplayers reminded me that it is not always about winning and losing. In fact, I would suggest to you that life is seldom, if ever, primarily about winning and losing. And it is not even about “how you play the game,” though surely that is important. I have often said that the difference between those who are successful and unsuccessful in this life is a matter of perspective and how one defines the terms. What does it mean to be successful? Does it mean that the person who hits the home run and rounds all of the bases is the most successful? Perhaps in baseball it means this, but if we apply this attitude, this perspective, to our lives then it is very likely that though we may win the game, in the end, we will find that we were playing the wrong game. Ultimately, what God has offered us in this life, is a new perspective. No longer are we bound to the world’s understanding of worth and value. No longer ought we to measure a person’s worth only in terms of accomplishment and achievement. As we embrace faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible says that the old is passed away, we are new creations, and that we are born again. Those who are found alive in Jesus Christ should have a different perspective.
My son Sebastian and every one of the many special needs people in or around my life have taught me the most valuable lessons I have yet learned. In the game of life, sometimes just spending time with your friends as you each take turns rounding the bases is more than enough to equal success. Our lives are indeed often too cluttered, to busy, to loud, and don’t make much sense. Our priorities are very often out of sync with what matters most. In the book of Acts we read of the conversion of the Apostle Paul. Though he was a man very far from the truth of Jesus Christ, the Bible says that after having encountered the risen Jesus and subsequently having placed his faith in Him, “Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.” (Acts 9:18 NIV)
Dear child of God, today the sovereign God of the universe is calling you to lose the scales from your eyes. He is calling you to embrace faith in His Son Jesus Christ that you might usher in a new perspective in your life! Whether you have never placed your trust in Christ for salvation or you have been a pilgrim traveler of the journey of faith for many years, this day that same offer extended to you.
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Beautifully written with very real examples we can relate to. And may I say, as a retired pediatric RN I have learned many of life's lessons of love and forgiveness from special needs children!