In 1981 the Texas Rangers were on the last day of a road trip in Seattle when a call came into the locker room. The manager took the call and then quickly came to my locker to say my wife’s obstetrician was on the phone. I immediately jumped up in alarm to answer the call since Janet was in her last month of pregnancy. “Jim, I’m sorry to inform you that Janet came in this morning with signs of labor. The baby went into arrest and she didn’t make it”.
Thoughts rushed about Janet’s condition! What must she be going through with my absence, alone with the pain? I don’t remember getting off the phone. An eerie subconscious memory emerging later of a slow walk back to the locker in complete silence as if my teammates were caught between the news and readiness for game time. The first conscious thing I remembered was the manager tapping my shoulder and asking if I wanted to go home or stay for the game. The question itself continued my paralysis.
Many of you know what it’s like to get hit with a life-changing message…a child killed by a drunk driver, a parent dying of cancer and a friend or colleague found dead from a heart attack and on.
The question of whether “to return home or stay” was numbing. Once my emotions were gathered and airline schedules addressed, our charter flight seemed the best scenario. Next, an even more thought-provoking question came from Don Zimmer. “Jim, now that you decided to stay, do you want to play or sit on the bench?” My emotions were playing mind games! Feelings were challenging my innermost being for the right pathway, calling out to a deeper level never tapped previously. One has a choice in tough situations to move courageously through adversity with vision or draw up in isolation. Today, the right choice was to play ball.
There was no desire that day for personal or team success. My performance was out the window and it felt good. I couldn’t lose! No one would expect me to do well, so the pressure was off. One can care so much and hold on so tight to reach a goal that the pressure inhibits their full release of talent. Amazing insights were made in the ole Kingdom that day as great personal results handed the Mariners a loss. A game changing experience of what it feels like to release results into the calming presences of the Father. This would be a new place of “freedom from performance” with good results.
There were no immediate answers to our child’s death! Time though can offer answers to questions. It’s a wonderful revelation to experience when God takes a tragedy and turns hearts towards thankfulness. We were later thankful for the birth and life of another wonderful daughter (who just birthed a beautiful granddaughter). We were thankful for experiencing what it felt like to release results into the hand of God’s goodness. A goodness duplicating itself in many venues over the years including His calming presence in the middle of a World Championship victory. That was a presence I learned years earlier in Seattle. I am thankful for how difficult situations can be used by God to open a heart to experience Him and know His loving faithfulness. Thankfulness is on display when God moves a heart to look for the good rather than dwell on the negative.
SPORTS TO LIFE NAVIGATOR
A revelation from God in any situation can turn a negative into a positive. The concept of electricity putting a positive charge to a negative creates light. It is then that tragedy can make a turn demonstrating thankfulness.