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The gravel crunches under my shoes as I step out of the batters box with bat in hand. I notice the outfielders moving in as I take my stance at home plate and face the pitcher. “Easy out,” someone shouts from the infield. My confidence evaporates as I steady the bat, poised to swing. I glance at the stands filled with parents cheering, but my father isn’t there. He’s never made it to even one of my games, but I still hope someday he will.

The pitcher delivers a fast ball across the plate. I swing the bat. Nothing but air. “Strike one!” The umpires snaps in a gruff voice. I want to glance at the stands again, but I force myself to concentrate on the next pitch. “Strike two!” The umpire yells. I just want to get on base for once. “Wait for the pitch,” the coach yells. I restrain myself on the next pitch. “Ball one,” the umpire calls to my relief.

But I can’t hold back on the next pitch. I swing and feel the ball clip the bat, then rise toward the sky. The bat slips from my hands as I instinctively sprint toward first base, unaware that the ball is sailing straight up, past the foul line. I run with all my might, but my heart sinks as I hear the ball smack a glove. “Out!” The umpire shouts. I drop my head and return to the bench. I know this will be my last time at bat.

A few innings later the game ends. We lost again. Our opponents smile and give each other high fives. All I could think about was being a loser on a losing team. I trudge toward the now empty bleachers to wait for my brother to pick me up. He’s usually late. I pass parents reassuring my team mates, “It’s okay.”

I start to climb the rows of seats on the bleachers when I notice an older man sitting on the top row. “Dad?!” I utter. He gently smiles and motions to me to join him. I climb the bleachers and sit next to him. He gives me a hug and says, “It’s okay, son.” I look at him in disbelief. “How long have you been here?” He gives me a loving grin. “For the whole game, he replies.” I shake my head, “But I didn’t see you.” I look into his eyes and feel a warmth I’ve never felt before. “I’ve been here for every game,” he says.

I’m skeptical about his comment, but his face speaks truth. “This is part of your journey, son; part of making you into the man I want you to be.” Such wisdom, but It doesn’t make sense to me. “But I’m no good,” I insist. He smiles and puts a hand on my shoulder. “I made you to be so much more than a baseball player.”

Suddenly a car horn blares. I turn to see my brother pull up with the car. “That’s my ride,” I say as I turn back to look at my father, but there’s no one there. Tears well up inside of me as i step down from the bleachers. I climb into the car with my brother. He turns to look at me. “Who were you talking to on the bleachers when I pulled up?” I close the car door and look at him, “My Father.” My brother frowns. “Dad? Dad’s at home!” I smile at him, “I was talking to God my father. He hasn’t missed a single one of my games.”

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:14 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

This moment between the past and the future. This moment before the dawn. This moment between night and day. This quiet moment there is just you and me God. You sit here with me like a dear old dad sharing a cup of coffee and life, listening intently. In this silent moment before the day emerges, I share my inner most thoughts with you. You reassure me with your wisdom. I humbly praise you; that I can acknowledge you as father; that you know me by name. You are the loving father that cheers me on, the proud father beaming with pride in the stands as you watch me on the field. I am forever grateful that I am your child. I praise you for the family of believers, my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. All praise to you dear God for this day!

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Romans 8:16 (NIV)

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1

© 2019 CGThelen

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