Backyard football games were a weekly event in the neighborhood where I grew up. Sometimes we wore helmets, sometimes not. It was a no helmet game that resulted in one of my America’s Funniest Home Videos’ moments, only the video camera wasn’t rolling. I was the wide-receiver, on a breakaway sprint, the cornerback closing in fast. The football, spiraling in perfect balance, seemed to be traveling in slow motion as it descended into my receptive and accurately placed hands. It was an amazing catch.
Now, with the football firmly tucked into position, I turned my face back to the goal line. I knew I only had a few steps to go, but I had completely forgotten about the swing set – one of the goal line landmarks. This particular swing set was made out of wood. Heavy wood, that is. And the cross-board that completed the A-shaped frame lined up perfectly with my left eye. I was about to be “clotheslined” by a swing set. I remember the thud, a sickening, excruciatingly sudden thud, a thud I still vividly remember twenty-five years after it happened.
The next memory I have of that fateful day is waking up on my neighbor’s couch. “How long was I out?” I asked.
“A couple of hours,” my friend’s father answered.
“A couple of hours!” I yelled, completely shocked that no one had rushed me to the hospital during the two hours I was unconscious. “I could have died,” I thought to myself.
“Don’t put your hand on it,” my friend’s mother demanded as I raised my hand to feel my throbbing forehead and eye. Several people reached out to physically stop me from surveying the damage.
“How bad is it?” I questioned the people gathered around the couch.
“Um, it’s about the size of a grapefruit, dude.” (Dude was “in” back then)
“It looks like it’s going to explode.”
“Gee, thanks. Aren’t you guys supposed to tell me that it’s not so bad?”
“No, it’s definitely bad,” someone replied.
“What did you guys do after I hit the swing set?”
“Well, you were out cold,” my friend’s mother began, “but you were breathing fine, and your pulse was okay. There wasn’t much bleeding. We carried you inside and laid you here on the couch.”
“Didn’t you think about calling an ambulance?”
“Not really. Some of the guys ran and got ice to knock down the swelling. And we all kept watch to make sure your vital signs stayed normal. We just believed you were going to be okay.”
Eventually I did get up off that couch and discover the ghastly damage to my eye. It was very much like horror movie make-up artists had been told to have a field day with the left side of my forehead, just above my eye.
I have often thought about how blessed I was during the time I was unconscious. I pictured my friends lifting me off the ground and gently carrying me into the house, making sure not to slam my head into each doorway they passed. I pondered the words they may have spoke to one another as they took care of me during the time I was unconscious. Then I thought about Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV): “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Just like my friends who scooped me up from the ground, carried me inside, and tended to my severe wound, God sent his Son into the world to snatch mankind from the curse of sin, made a promise to carry us through storms we think are too severe, and miraculously purges our souls from the ailment of worldly blindness. We see the temporal existence of this world. In just the same way I worried about being unconscious for two hours, we all tend to worry about our lives at this moment. I failed to understand during my awakening that I was through the storm and I could do nothing to retrieve the two hours of life I had lost.
When we become new creatures in Christ, we no longer dwell on the failures, the inconveniences, and the unfairness of this fallen world. We are awake to the unconsciousness of this world, and our new spiritual eyes are focused on our true home.
I find it amazing that God was able to use a weekend football game to teach one of his children a lesson in faith. But then again, He is truly amazing…don’t you agree?