Homeruns & Prayer Times


Every Christian parent searches for those priceless teaching moments to plant their faith and values into their child’s heart and soul; golden opportunities when those faith seeds can be planted deeper than our normal routines and practices allow. My oldest son and I had one of those moments back in the summer of 1991 and I thought I’d share it with you.

It was the District Little League tournament in LaGrande, OR. Our all-stars from Ontario weren’t pick  as one of the favorites. So it was quite a shock to find ourselves on that Saturday, in the quarterfinals, with a chance to advance to the semi-finals, increasing the odds that we might actually advance to the finals with a change to win the tournament.

It was the bottom of the final inning; we were down 2 runs, 2 outs and my son, Jeff, came up to bat, with 2 runners on base. It was the situation that most baseball parents pray their child will never face. I was scared and praying hard for Jeff. Strike 1, then strike 2; only 1 strike away from elimination. I prayed harder. Then CRACK! He hit a homerun to win the game. Everyone from Ontario went wild. But that’s not the priceless teaching moment.

The next day was Sunday and I was preaching in Ontario, 2.5 hours away from LaGrande. I started to get a substitute, but I felt that it would give my wife, Shari, and Jeff some special time together. And it did. Shari had to work on that Saturday, so she didn’t get to see Jeff’s homerun. Shari and Jeff took off early Sunday morning, heading for LaGrande. I stayed and preached in Ontario. I had given Shari strict orders to call immediately after the game with the results; “Don’t keep me hanging.”

I got home from church and figured that the game had already begun. I was a nervous wreck, watching the clock and calculating when the game should end. About that time the phone rang. (no cell phones back in those days) Shari reported that they were about to head home. Then she said, “I love you. See you soon.” I was flabbergasted. She said NOTHING about whether Ontario had won or lost. I remember being so angry with her at the time. I never realized how SLOOOOOOW the secondhand on a clock moves.

I finally made myself start doing a few things around the house to help pass the time. Finally, I heard a card door close, stared at the front door. My son burst the front door open and said, “Dad, I did it again; I hit another homerun in the bottom of the 6th and WE WON AGAIN! We are in the finals.” We were hugging and hollering together. Then he added, “Now don’t be mad at mom for not telling you on the phone. I asked her to say nothing, so that I could tell you when we got home.” Then I understood.

FYI- Ontario lost the next day and finished second in the tournament.

Now to the priceless teaching moment. It actually occurred on our way home, following the quarter finals game. I asked Jeff, “Do you know what my proudest moment has been this week?” He immediately replied, “Well, the homerun today, or course.” I shook my head and said, “Not so, son. Today I watched you kneel and pray before each at bat. Thursday I watched you kneel before you started to pitch each inning. Watching you pray has filled me with more joy than that homerun. I enjoyed the homerun, but it can’t hold a candle to you praying.”

That summer was so special for our family for many reasons. But my fondest memory was that priceless teaching moment as Jeff and I drove back to Ontario together. Thank You, LORD.


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