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Softball

I am a senior citizen who loves to play softball. I was never encouraged in sports as a boy, but at age 60 I began playing the game with senior citizens. Now at age 70 I am so thrilled that I can still get out and play with players of any age. I was really having fun. I was the pitcher on my church team.

In this particular game, I was facing a healthy young twenty five year old athlete. His last time at bat, he had hit one that went out of the park and across the street. I planned to throw some outside pitches that he could not hit. I was about to learn a hard lesson about a softball that is not soft at all.

I let go an outside/low pitch. Suddenly the ball was coming right back at me with lightening speed. He had hit a line drive. I got my glove almost to my face when the ball hit me directly in the mouth. Some thought I had caught the ball and began to cheer. When the ball fell to the ground and I fell to my knees, the cheers turned to concern.

As I was falling, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. The game stopped. The team gathered around me. Very oddly, in that moment of disaster, my mind went back to our recent Sunday school study of the sufferings of Job. I thought to myself, “this is nothing compared to what Job suffered.”

I had no idea of the severity of my injury except that I was in terrible pain. I was down, for the count and bleeding profusely. My jaw felt like it was broken and my teeth were scattered around on the ground.

They called an ambulance and I was taken to the hospital where I learned that my injuries were very serious. In the small town where I live there are no facilities for the type of surgery I needed. It would be necessary for me to travel five hours to a distant city for surgery.

Even a short trip can be long when you are in pain. That long trip was made easier because I knew many people were praying for me. The calls, visits, love and concern shown to me from my friends, teammates, and church family was a tremendous blessing. I was hurting badly but the young man who was the hitter was hurting too. My heart goes out to him and I want him to know that God loves him and I do too. No player would ever try to hurt another player. The game is fun but sometimes dangerous. I have always been aware that something like this could happen.

After almost four hours of surgery, I awoke with pain far greater than anything I have ever known. Because of the extent of work done on my mouth and face, I cannot eat solid food and have trouble sleeping. I never knew my face had so many places that could hurt. Pain medicine does not help ease the pain long enough. My facial bones were crushed. For reconstruction they inserted five metal plates in my face and fixed my broken nose. In the future, these plates will remind me of the mercy of God, because if the place of impact had been an inch or two higher or lower, or in my chest, where four years ago I had open heart surgery, I could have been dead before I hit the ground.

The full extent of what the Lord wants me to learn from this I have yet to know. I am learning, just as Job did, that God is in control even when I don’t understand what His plan is. I have come to realize there was a problem… I loved softball. It was my passion, but it was turning into an obsession. I could not wait for the games to start. I really loved the praise I was getting for my ability to play so well at my age. They called me ‘Mr. Bob,’ like I was a celebrity. Some called me “The Money Man” because you could take it to the bank… when I came to bat I was going to get a hit.

I was told I was an inspiration to the younger men and it caused me to swell up with pride. In Proverbs 16:18 the Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Would my pride be my undoing? Did I have a haughty spirit? Underneath it all I knew something was not right.

Many times I had prayed for a win for our team when things were not going well. When God gave us the win I took much of the praise and the glory to myself instead of giving it to God. I believe this accident was a blessing in disguise. I know that God is not in the business of directing line drives and hitting faces but he does have ways of bringing things to our attention. He reminds us that the glory for our successes is His, not ours. My heart’s desire now is in the verse in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer.” I not only want to give glory to God but also tell others of his mercy and grace.

I know that God wants to be involved in everything we do. This did not take him by surprise. Nothing does that. I believe God gave me a wake up call. It was time for me to adjust my priorities.

Whether or not I ever play ball again is unimportant. I want to be able to help others see the importance of giving thanks and praise to God in all things. I still love softball, and I love all my teammates and all the players in our league. It has been a real joy to play with this fine group of men. I have been blessed by an outpouring of love and concern from all of them and many others.

We do not understand why things happen to us as they do but we can rest in the assurance of Romans 8:28 which says, “… all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” God has a purpose in it all. His love is wonderful.

With God’s help, this pitcher may be down, but he is not out.

Bob Pinkston #36.

(Written by Carolyn Young as told to me by my brother Bob) jcklr1@gmail.com

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