Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fallen Teammate

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail that my Little League teammate, Billy, had passed away. For the next few days my mind was filled with memories of our baseball journey together over 30 years ago. In our first year on the Senators, we landed on a miserable team that not only suffered through a winless season, but was the laughingstock of the league. It was a very difficult year for me personally; in my tee-ball years prior, I was on the dominant team in the league. We toasted two championships together, and in my mind, that success was going to surround me on every team I played. However, that first year of Little League brought me quickly back down to earth.

The following year found renewed hope; some new players were coming in, and the players that returned were determined not to repeat the dreadful performance from the prior season. Although we were a much better team that year, we were no match for the league’s dominant team, the Athletics, and finished a distant second.

In my final year of Little League, the Senators rose to a lofty position. We easily won our division, but sadly fell a run short in the 3rd and final game of the playoffs. As fate would have it, I wound up making the final out in that game, but I remember not one ill word said towards me - for the small group of us, like Billy and I, who had survived that winless season together, we were walking off that field as champions. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were also walking off that field as lifelong teammates. I haven’t seen Billy in well over 20 years and we haven’t played Little League ball together in almost 30, but I still feel like I lost a member of my extended family.

As it turns out, that Senators team would model my walk with the Lord in my later years as an adult. From the despair and lowliness of walking apart from Him, to the maturing process of learning His will, to the joy and peace of knowing Him that rises above any defeat or trial we could ever encounter here on earth. I pray that peace finds its way into the hearts of Billy’s family, especially during this time.