I wrote this back in 2000. A friend recently reminded me of it and I thought it was worth putting it out there again. I hope you like it.
Our lives are often marked by moments.
We do not remember every day of our lives, but there are some that stand out as milestones that are indelibly etched in our memories. Whether they are good or bad, they play a role in shaping us as persons. Sometimes our entire lives revolve around one single moment. It can take years before we live in another moment that impacts us like the last one.
A friend of mine related a story of a moment in a young man’s life that he had the opportunity to witness.
My friend’s son is on his high school’s basketball team, and they were playing their last game of the season. There was a boy named Patrick who is the student-manager. He is a special education student, and always enthusiastic in his role. He has tried to make the team in the past, but he never qualified so he shifted his considerable energies to supporting his team in the best way he could. He apparently had a positive attitude and spirit the team appreciated, always there to pass out towels and water. Always there to encourage the players in open admiration of their abilities. As a means of expressing their appreciation of him the team approached the coach and asked that he be allowed to wear a team jersey and go out on the court to participate in the game. The coach agreed.
When the team gave Patrick his jersey on the day of the game he put it on and proudly wore it all day at school. It was the beginning of his moment.
The game began that evening and the coach spoke to the opposing team’s coach to tell him of his team’s intentions regarding Patrick. The other coach agreed to help. At a certain point in the game Patrick was sent in. His team had the ball and it was passed to him. The opposing coach called off his guards and Patrick took a shot from the 3-point line. It fell short, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that he got to play.
Later in the game, just a few minutes before the end, my friend’s son Ryan signaled the coach indicating that he should take him out and send in Patrick.
The other team had the free throw and they were ahead by several points. There was no way his team was going to win, but that didn’t matter. He was in the game and he was going to play his best. It was his moment.
As the other team made their free-throw Patrick was sent down to the other end of the court. Two of the guards started to follow him down, but their coach waved them off and Patrick found himself by the basket alone. One of his teammates rolled the ball down the court to him, and he looked up at the basket and took the shot.
The ball went through the hoop just as the final buzzer sounded.
Everyone went wild. His team rushed him and hugged him. The other team cheered him too. The crowd chanted his name, “Pa-trick! Pa-trick! Pa-trick!” His team, whose jersey he proudly wore, had lost the game, and yet they cheered for him. They lost, yet they won. By allowing him to play they had contributed to his worth and affirmed his spirit with dignity. They had given him an instance of greatness, and in the gift had attained a greatness of their own.
They gave him his moment.
And don’t for one minute think he will ever forget it.
He will be defined as a person by knowing that others thought enough of him pass him the ball, and truly be a part of the team. Something he had longed for.
I suspect everyone else in that gym watching the game will remember it too. It was a moment for them as well. A moment when joy was suddenly present in what would have been a less than boisterous instance. A moment when the good in this young man was acknowledged as each of us wishes to be acknowledged.
But this is just one moment out of a countless multitude of them.
Consider the moments in your own life. Try as you might you probably can’t remember them all right now, but the ones you need come to you when you find yourself in a situation that reminds you.
Here are some of the moments in my life:
My big brother Bill coming home on leave from the Air Force.
The big family Christmas gatherings.
The day my mother told me she and my father were getting a divorce.
The last time I saw my mother before she died.
The day I met my best friend Shawn.
The last time I saw my father before he died.
The day I became a Christian.
The day I married my wife.
The day my first daughter was born.
The last time I spoke to my childhood friend Ron before he died of a brain tumor.
The day my second daughter was born.
The games I used to play with my daughters when I woke them up on Saturday mornings.
The day my youngest daughter had surgery to remove her adenoids.
The day my oldest daughter had her gall bladder removed.
The day it was discovered my wife had a brain tumor.
The day she had surgery to remove it.
The overwhelming support we received from our family and friends and the strength I gained in my faith.
One after another the moments of my life come to me. All of them are related somehow. If my parents had not died I would not have met and married my wife. I would not have the privilege of being her husband and being the father to two wonderful daughters. If I had not been there to watch Ron die I never would have developed the appreciation of my faith that I have. If I had not seen my parent’s relationship, I would never have known what to avoid in a relationship.
There are many others that I have not named, but I could fill many pages and still not name them all. Some are painful and some are full of joy. There were times when a certain moment eagerly consumed all of my resources. I would examine and reexamine it for what seemed like ages. Many times I would not stop thinking about it until another came along that derailed my scrutiny of the previous one. God used each one to create in me something He could use, and I may never know His full intention in His use of me. I no longer have a need to know it all. What I do know is that He is not creating me in a casual manner. He is doing it deliberately and lovingly. He is taking His care with me to make me into someone valuable to Him. We are infinitely more valuable to Him than we are in any human eyes. It is not just a simple sketch He draws with us, but a full painting using every color He has created; a masterpiece that will always have His full and undivided attention as He perfects every detail. Every stroke of the brush on the canvas is a defining moment in our lives. When the moment comes I am astonished at the notice He takes of me, and I either weep at being humbled, laugh with joy, or both. All of my expectations and values are suddenly suspended. I abruptly find myself looking at life with no preconceptions. All of my expectations become meaningless. All of my good intentions are worthless. My reaction to His touch is never indifferent. Neutrality is simply impossible when dealing with God.
Now I tend to live my life moment to moment, and sometimes there are significant intervals of time between them. But given the reaction I usually have each one gives me plenty to work with until the next one comes along. There have been plenty of times when the moment was not welcome. His touch upset my plans, or brought to light some aspect of myself I had been comfortably ignoring. But even as I acknowledge these attitudes I am forced to recognize that before God I have no rights. He holds all the cards. He made all the rules. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," (Isaiah 55:8). He is perfectly within His rights and abilities to interrupt me whenever He wishes.
And so I lay here on the ground staring at a night sky so vast I get lost just looking at it, knowing that behind it all God, in His most intimate knowledge of me and my needs, is preparing to send me my next moment.
©Dan Bode 2000