Tonight I experienced what will surely go down as one of my son’s greatest moments. If not, it will surely be one of my fondest. Now, I promise this is not going to turn into a baseball blog but, if you would, just spare me one more story.
We made it to the championship series of little league baseball. Regular season is done. Tournament games – win or go home – over. We are down to the final two teams. Best two of three games. We won last night and I’m certain my nerves can’t take another game, so obviously I’m hoping we can just pull out another win. The league director is there, trophies in hand (just in case). The Dad’s are nervous. Mama’s are pacing. The 14-year-old umpires are…well, overwhelmed. And, the boys on both teams are giving it all they’ve got.
It was a nail biter. But, in the end, we WON!!!
I’m not really sure who had more fun tonight, or this season for that matter, my son or me. Watching him grow to love this game is a dream come true for me. I’ve loved this game since I was his age but, truth be known, it’s not just his love for the game that is a dream for me. It’s simply that he can play the game.
I was reminded last week as I watched him sleep for a few minutes – creepy I know – of a time about a week after he was born that I sat in my living room with tears streaming down my face praying that my baby boy would be able to function normally in this world.
Because of a prenatal condition called amniotic banding, he was born missing most of his index finger and a portion of his middle finger on his left hand. The day he was born we were shocked by his birth defect. The pregnancy was uneventful. The ultrasounds were normal. There were no signs. Then, just like all new parents, we counted his fingers and toes only to find they weren’t all there. The pediatrician explained what happened. Ultrasounds were reviewed again, but nothing could change this reality.
It seems silly now that I was so worried about this as he is a crazy active, normal 7-year-old boy. But the months and weeks after he was born were very difficult for me. I worried so much about how he would function.
What if he’s left handed?
What if other children make fun of him?
Will he be able to tie his shoes?
What about climbing and the monkey bars?
How will he play an instrument if he chooses?
Will he be able to grip/throw/catch a ball?
The list seemed to grow by the day and sometimes the hour. I wanted so desperately to be grateful because the outcomes of amniotic banding can be much more devastating – missing limbs, clubfoot or hand, cleft palate, death. But, there were just so many questions and only time would provide the answers.
I prayed for him and wanted to trust God for his future. But, this was my son.
This wasn’t just about me anymore. As his mother, even after one week, I wanted to protect and save him from a world that can be cruel, mean and unfair. And, I already felt the harsh reality that this would be impossible and I would have to place my trust in something bigger than myself.
I felt like the father in Mark 9. He brought his son who suffered from seizures before Jesus hoping for a miracle and said, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”.
“If you can”, said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes”.
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”
This father was surely devastated and at his wits end. He had probably consulted everyone he knew regarding his son’s condition. He had already taken the boy before the disciples and they were unable to help. Jesus was his only hope.
His statement of “if you can” was not one of taunting or mocking – it was the desperation of a father who loves his son. He wants to believe that Jesus can heal the boy and make him new – but this was his son. It was bigger than him. The stakes were high. The cost was great. And the belief, well, it wavered.
Have you been there? Are you there now?
Lord I believe, but this is my child.
Lord I believe, but this is cancer.
Lord I believe, but this is divorce.
Lord I believe, but this my parent…. my sister…. my brother … my life.
Lord I believe, but this is bigger than me. The stakes are high. The cost is great. The belief is wavering.
Now, Jesus goes on to do what Jesus does – he heals the boy. He makes him new. He’s not shaken by the father’s unbelief. He’s not disappointed because his faith is a little hesitant and shaky. He overlooks the likely quiver in the father’s voice and sees a man with a boy who’s in desperate need of a miracle. He understands that our faith is human, imperfect and sometimes mixed with unbelief. And, even in the midst of wavering faith, Jesus provides healing.
Now, I’m not saying that all of us will experience the same automatic healing as the boy. But, I do believe that all of us will experience the healing that we need when we surrender not only our beliefs but also our unbelief.
As my son grows, so does my belief. The things I worried so much about, one-by-one have turned from worry and doubt to tiny little miracles.
He was born a fighter – who never gives up.
He has developed friendships with children who fiercely protect him when others make fun of him.
He climbs. He adapts. He finds new ways. I’ve watched him attempt the monkey bars so many times and fail – yet every time he goes just a little further.
He’s really funny. He tells other children he was bitten by a shark, and named his missing finger “Mr. Squishy” and his middle finger “Joe”.
This morning I found an end-of-the-school-year booklet where he listed all the things he loves about 1st grade. The thing he loves most about himself is his “special finger”.
And just last night, he played in a championship baseball game. He caught the ball, threw the ball, and hit the ball. As he held his trophy, I caught a glimpse of “Mr. Squishy and Joe”, and my eyes filled with tears. Not because he won, but because it’s one more tiny miracle.
So in this season, if you’re facing something that’s bigger than you. When the stakes are high, the cost is great and your faith is wavering, remember that Jesus understands your faith is human and imperfect. He hears the quiver in your voice when you say, “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief” and chooses healing anyway.
Mary Ann, Mr. Squishy and Joe