May 5, 2012

Dear Papa


I recently told one of your stories in a sermon here in our church in Mexico. You know the one where you were playing baseball, on your way to the Big Leagues, and while fielding a ground ball, the smoke from your cigarette got in your eyes, causing you to mis-throw to first.

I love that story. I’d love it even if it wasn’t about my grandpa. I love how God seized a moment and spoke to you, and all at once you knew that weren’t supposed to be on that ball field in the first place. God had other plans for you. Most of all, I love that you listened.

I was thinking about that story the other day while reading Genesis. Lots of times when we read the Bible I think that we’re overly amazed or overly dumbfounded by  people’s responses to God’s calling on them. It’s like we don’t recognize that people still continue to either answer God in amazing ways or deny Him in dumbfounding ways. Like with Abraham, for example, when God called him to leave his people and his family and to go somewhere he’d never been, we think, Wow! What faith!” when we read that he simply did what God said.

Well, how about a young baseball player, moving up in the sport, becoming recognized… how about a guy like that being called off the baseball field and into the ministry field? What if a guy like that, hearing the call of God, said yes,” took off his hat and glove, and followed God somewhere he had never been? That, too, would be amazing, right?

Me, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, my parents, my kids, all of us — we all, in one way or another, are products of that moment when you said yes” to God. When you took seriously His call, when you trusted that preaching was more important than pitching, a new legacy was born. And here I sit, your grandson, writing you this letter, as part of that chain of events that God set in motion when you said yes.”

I wonder, did you ever have a moment of doubt about following God instead of your athletic talent? I wonder, if as a young man, you ever thought, Why the heck did I leave the ball field?” Because now, in light of the fruit that God has produced in you, it seems ridiculous to think that maybe baseball would have been the better choice.

I mean, look at what God has accomplished! His Word carried on the feet of your kids and grandkids and great grandkids. That little, critical moment on a baseball field continues to resonate — quite literally — through multiple generations and to ends of the earth.

I love you, Papa. I’m honored, proud, humbled, and just plain overwhelmed with thanksgiving to be a part of the legacy that God began in you.

I send my hugs, love, and prayers to you and Nana.

Love your oldest and still handsomest grandson,


(The preceding is a letter to my grandfather. I sent it to him shortly before he passed away.)

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