His shoulders slumped under the weight of the baseball bat. He bit his bottom lip and wrinkled his nose, fighting back tears. Straightening in the box, his eyes trained on the arm of the pitching machine. Within seconds, another ball came hurling toward the plate. His mother and I held our breath. The slap of the catcher’s glove let us know our fears came true. The umpire, as if to erase any doubt from the crowd, bellowed, “Strike three! You’re out!”
A little boy’s tear-filled eyes searched the stands, looking for our reaction. The heartbreak written across his face marched across the field, up the bleachers, climbed down my throat, and wrapped around my stomach in a double fisherman’s knot. I wanted to run out on the field, scoop him up, and bearhug him. But I knew it would embarrass the little boy that was testing his masculinity on the chalked diamond. All I knew to do was look through the chain-linked fence into his eyes, clapping, and keep repeating, “It’s alright, son. It’s alright.”
I wanted him to knock the ball out of the park that day. My desire was not based on some vicarious childhood dream. The motivation for wanting him to succeed was because I knew he wanted to do well. He wanted to look to the stands as he rounded the bases and see us cheering. That didn’t happen on that hot summer day. As we all learn, my son learned you don’t win every time.
As I watched him trod off the field towards the dugout, I realized how God, our Heavenly Father, must feel. How many times has He wanted us to succeed, but all too often we don’t? We may expect to look to heaven, and see an angry scowl, but in reality, God’s still rooting for us from heaven’s grandstands. Although He doesn’t want us to fail, He knows that every crook in the journey will bring glory to His name. He knows each disappointment will teach us lessons and shape us into the person He is making us. And most important, He knows that nothing will ever change whose child we are. Even if, we go down swinging.