Monday, July 11, 2011

The Feature

“From Heaven, the Lord looks down and sees all mankind.” Psalm 33:13
He stole my heart the way a baseball player steals a base-- in the blink of an eye and before I even knew it was happening. I took in his angelic face, his infectious smile, and his boundless energy, and I was smitten. Instantly.

His name was Jacob. He was seven years old.

As I watched his bat connect with the ball, time and time again, I marveled at his timing and his aim. Not many boys his age would have so masterfully conquered the skills of… tee ball.  Especially, if they could not see the ball, or the tee on which it was perched. 

You see-- Jacob was blind.

My assignment was to bring in a feature report on people helping people. My search led me to Jacob and his youth league coach.  Retinoblastoma had robbed Jacob of his eyes when he was four years old. But his pre-school memories of playing tee ball in the back yard remained vivid in his mind and he wanted to play once again. By seeming coincidence, a youth league coach learned of Jacob and agreed to put him on his team.

In the beginning, the coach would patiently tuck Jacob’s tiny hand into his own, and guide it to the place where the ball sat.  He would wrap his arms around Jacob and help him aim, then step away and let the child take the swing. When bat and ball connected, the coach would again grasp Jacob’s hand and guide him as he ran around the bases. The reaction from the crowd was always the same. Emotional silence followed by thunderous applause. 

As time went on, Jacob mastered many of the moves of the game on his own.. no longer needing a guiding hand every time he stepped up to the plate. He even took his place in the outfield and was often heard gleefully yelling “Hit it to me! Hit it to me!” 

Jacob’s mother once said to me “He doesn’t think he is blind.” Indeed, it seems to me that Jacob has simply learned to see with his heart, instead of his eyes.

Today, when you are faced with a difficult situation or person, think of Jacob. Resolve to put a smile on your face and shout out to life: “Hit it to me!” Like Jacob’s tee ball coach, God promises to take our hand, put his arms around us and guide us around the obstacles in our way, making certain we move safely toward ‘home.’

*This is an excerpt from my video devotional, "Anchored". My thanks to Jacob, and his mom, Jessica, for allowing me to tell their story. They are my heroes now.... and forever. If you would like to see the video version of this blog entry, click this link which will take you to my website.
Photo Courtesy: Promise. A quarterly publication of St. Judge Children's Research Hospital. Memphis, TN.

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