Sunday afternoon. Rainy outside. Perfect day for watching football. In the midst of these incredible athletes, an offensive lineman goes down. They show him being carted off with his leg in an inflatable cast. Broken? Cracked? Only an X-ray will tell. But less than whole, unable to continue. Hmm … Too many metaphors to choose from.
Slow motion replay showed that he was doing his job and two players rolled up on his leg from behind. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in the fray. Too often, I find myself there, not on the field, but battling giants only to be overtaken by one I did not see coming. Then I find myself broken, unable to continue.
I found myself in that situation the other day. I had just finished taking my wife to dinner. I kissed her, opened the door and made sure she was safely inside her car before I went to mine. As I started my engine, I saw a man walking towards us. He was nicely dressed with a very sharp hat. Then I had the sinking feeling that he was headed towards me. This is a reoccurring situation at this restaurant. I get approached often by someone asking for money. But this was different. This man did not seem like the typical down-on-your-luck type of person. (That description sounds awful. I’m certainly no better than anyone else, which soon became abundantly clear). My fear took over and I left as quickly as I could. I drove off shaken.
This man might have needed me, or I might have needed him. Now I will never know. But I rationalized that my instincts are there for a reason and sometimes fear is a good thing. But sometimes, it’s an easy way out.
Self-preservation, I said.
If that football player had seen the others coming, he would have tried to get out of the way.
Yet as I drove off, the fear of having failed him somehow crept in, giving my weaker self a chance to replay my past failures. I wallowed in enumerating old scars, reliving difficult seasons in my life. I arrived home completely deflated.
After a troubled night’s sleep, I awoke with questions, wondering why they did not disappear with the sunset. A long drive to a morning meeting allowed time to sit in silence; nothing but the sound of wheels turning against the asphalt and my thoughts pouring out like Saturday morning cereal, searching for the hidden prize of a little wisdom or a lesson that I missed.
I recalled a story about Jesus healing a leper.
“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. “ Matthew 8:2-3
So I thought, “If you are willing, You could give me the answers”, but none for me yet.
My father used to say: A man walks into the doctor’s office and says “Doctor, Doctor, I’m shrinking!” The doctor says, “You just have to learn to be a little patient.”
Not funny then, not funny now.
So I do what I can to do. Pray.
I am grateful for the angels that pulled me from a bad situation, if that’s what it was.
I ask for forgiveness if my fear made me fail, if that’s what it was.
Mostly, I pray for the man in the hat, whether his intent was to harm, or help, or if he was just another thirsty soul like me.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. “ Romans 8:26
And a certain peace came over my weary mind.
It turns out that the football player broke his ankle and would be out for the remainder of the year. But he will heal and should be ready for the next season.
I pray that my brokenness will heal so I will be ready for my next season as well.
So here I am,
Broken, but on the mend,
And still Blessed in Great Measure.