“Your Christmas gift is based on the most horrifying story I heard you tell when I was growing up. I was in the third grade when I first heard you tell it.”
That was what our second son, Keithen, told me. So, I asked if it was the story I told about the dog trapped in the log. Or, was it the one about the truck driver who lost brakes with his rig coming down the hill on the St. Marys pike. It was neither.
Rather, it was the story I told about a certain baseball I lost when I was a kid.
Briefly, in 1964, my dad worked as an agent for Southland Insurance. His staff had a selling contest that year, and he won an autographed baseball by the star major league player, Rocky Colovito. The man once hit four consecutive homers in one game.
Dad gave to me the ball, and I treasured it. I carried it in my glove, and showed it to people everywhere. But, one day, I made the mistake of getting it out and playing catch with it with my brother, Chris, who errantly threw it into a field thick with weeds. It was unfortunately lost, and I was devastated.
Back to Christmas: Keithen placed his gifts in my lap, and I opened them. I unwrapped the first to find an authenticated autographed baseball by none other than Rocky Colovito. The second was an authenticated 1964 Topps baseball card of Rocky Colovito. I was flabbergasted. I struggled to keep from crying in front of everyone as it sunk in what my boy had done for me.
Then, that Scripture jumped into my mind. It is a verse I describe as probably the most comforting of all: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Keithen’s thoughtful gifts affirm the truth of that verse to me. And, the same in no small way exemplifies the truth of that verse to all. Not all things are good, but, in all things (in good things or in bad things), God works together for good.
For a while, I despised my brother for chunking my autographed ball over my head the way he did. I blamed him for doing it on purpose because Dad had given that special ball to me.
But, even though I had no concept at the time that He would, God eventually worked out good concerning it. First of all, the incident provided the basis of an effective sermon illustration, which ministered significantly to at least two people I know of first-hand after tying it in with Scripture. Those good results would not have taken place, perhaps, had the ball not been lost.
Furthermore, Keithen probably would not have heard about the incident, which had apparently affected him (as he indicated). And, it was through him that God, fifty-four years after the fact, brought about the good of a touching gift from a son to his father. You cannot beat it with a stick!
This Scriptural truth is so important for us to know about, trust in, and always remember. It absolutely does not matter what it involves in our lives or what it is. God works together for good in all things.
The reason many people stay in a constant mindset of crisis is because of not coming to grips with this great truth. Most assuredly, a lot of things are not good.
But, it certainly gives an upper hand in life—-a distinct spiritual advantage—-to understand confidently that the Lord will some how, some way, and at some time get good out it. It is not to promote a passive, willy-nilly attitude about things. But, it involves taking the stance of letting God’s will be done in the short term or the long haul. It takes a lot of pressure off our emotional and spiritual shoulders.
So, I asked Keithen why it was such a horrifying story to him that I had lost that baseball. He said he just could not believe that I had such a good possession from professional baseball, and that I would lose it so carelessly.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.