I hope all of you had someone in your life who you could play catch with. That's one of the many good memories I have of my dad. Over the years I graduated from an awkward child-sized glove to a pretty decent one. Dad and I would also play catch with a football. I could have been in the jazz band at Sparta High, but I chose to be a statistician for football and basketball. Even in jazz band, though, the principle of playing catch applies, since one musician can't play the solo part all the time: You have to let go.
Polio hit me early and hard. I was only ten months old, just starting to pull myself up to coffee tables and window sills to try to walk, when I contracted the dreaded viral disease. I was misdiagnosed by our family doctor and almost burned up with fever. I couldn't keep water down orally. Something jogged Mom's memory to the effect that the large intestine absorbs water. She would give me a cool enema every half hour. I didn't lose a drop. The doctor later said that this procedure probably saved my brain and maybe even my life.
My budding ambulatory was interrupted, though. When I got home from the hospital, I reached for my walker, thinking that if I could just "get behind the wheel," everything would be fine. When my legs still didn't work, I reportedly refused ever to touch the walker again. I became a little fighter--and stone thrower. It was me against the universe, and the universe had better look out! Once I accidentally hit a friend's mom in the belly with a piece of gravel.
It took until my third year of college for Dad and God to get thru to me that I wasn't in this alone. Dad had me read John 10:27-30 in the Bible. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish. No one can take them from my hand. The Father, who is greater than all, has given them to me, and no one can take them from my Father's hand. I and my Father are one."
I knelt down in Dad's study and said, "Lord, I want to be your sheep."
It wasn't much of a throw, but Jesus caught the ball, and the game was on.
I've had other issues of letting go over the years. The spring semester of 2006 was difficult. I was studying counseling at Winona State while tuning pianos, substitute teaching, volunteering in a mental health support group, and trying to keep my first marriage together. For three weeks I couldn't let go and have a bowel movement. I failed one course at WSU--all of my other grades were straight A's--and dropped out of the program. My wife left me, finalizing her divorce two years later.
I'm a hoarder. I'm reluctant to let things go, because I might need them sometime. I have too many books and papers. Sometimes I'm reluctant to give up control
Doctors Harville Hendrix and Helen La Kelly Hunt are a husband and wife team who teach counselors. They've produced a CD series called "Receiving Love." Harville once said on Wisconsin Public Radio that the one thing that will make a person grow more than anything else is a committed relationship. Letting go of what's not necessary. Not dropping the ball in what is necessary.
Scientists say that the chance of our universe even existing is like the chance of throwing a dart across the entire known universe and hitting a quarter-sized bullseye on the other side. Yet we're here. God hit the bullseye. But to do so, he had to let go of the dart.
God let go of more than that. He threw his Love to a little manger and an old, rugged cross on our tiny planet in the wild hope that we would catch it, hold onto it, and share it with each other, and throw it back to him.