There’s a pivotal scene in the 2011 movie “Moneyball,” when Jonah Hill’s character Peter Brand cues up a video to show to Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt. Brand wants to demonstrate that Beane has done some great things with his ball club but is not realizing it. The video Brand shows him is of minor league player Jeremy Brown hitting the ball then deciding to try for second base. Something he is usually afraid of doing. But he decides to go for it and rounds first base to head for second base. He trips and falls over first base and has to crawl back to the bag. The whole time he hadn’t realized, the ball had gone 60 feet over the fence. “He hit a home run and didn’t even realize it,” says Brand.
I had lower back pain for over 20 years. It began with changing a tire on my car and rupturing a disk in my spine. For the next two decades, I would be in and out of pain. One day, after playing hard on a trampoline with my daughter Tara, I was once again in pain. This time it was different. A lot different. Worse than ever. Almost as bad as the original injury. For days I couldn’t put my shoes on without help. It was excruciating to look down into the sink when shaving and I would perspire just getting out of bed in the morning.
When my doctor took x-rays and showed me the disks out of place in my spine, I was once again depressed. Options were to do some intense physical therapy (PT) and plan B was surgery. Deeper depression.
The next day, not having made a therapy appointment yet, I was on the phone with my dear friend Susan. She was in her car headed for a day of her classes at the Chicago Theological Seminary. I told her about the x-rays, being exhausted from the pain, being unwilling to call for PT appointment. “I just don’t want to have to go to therapy. This is all so old now.” Susan, as usual, was encouraging and asked if she could pray. I always enjoy her prayers. Wonderful, compassionate words to our God. She asked me to put my hand on my back.
Susan in her car, me in my office looking out over a parking lot, she began. I tried to agree with what she was asking for. Healing, patience, immediate relief, more healing, giving thanks. While she’s praying, a hot, prickly feeling moved from my scalp down my face and chest and quickly covered my whole body. I remember thinking “wow…that’s uncomfortable.”
Our conversation over, I turned back to my desk and made a phone call. Then what happens next…
“…people have asked me ‘have you ever seen God?’ I’ve never seen God. I’ve never seen the wind. I’ve seen the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind. There’s a mystery to it.” ~Billy Graham
I stood up, there was no pain. In shock, I stood motionless for a few moments then sat back down. Then stood back up. Then sat back down. You get it, the testing began. Seated, I bent over. No pain. I untied my shoes, sat up, then bent over to tie them. No pain. For days I tested my new back. The relief was beyond my belief. I kept testing it. What exactly had happened? I had seen the x-rays with my own eyes. What? God had hit a home run, and I didn’t even realize it. I couldn’t accept it. I felt I wasn’t worthy.
The truth is, God is hitting home runs every day and we don’t realize it. We are introduced to people who could change our lives but we don’t think to invite them to coffee and talk. We walk by people in need when a simple outreach could change their life or make their day, or ours. I would like you and me to experience more of it. WHY? Because our character could use more power and energy. Make the commitment to watch for the home runs and personal growth will continue.
Can we identify the home runs in everyday life? If we could, would we accept them? If we could it would build our character and help us grow. We can. Here’s what I do…
Preparation: Read this point a couple of times. Are you watching for growth opportunities? Are you ready to accept something very special happening to you today and tomorrow? Like me, you are worthy of God’s grace and you are worthy of home runs being hit in your own ballpark. Accept them and feel the Love. Imagine that today you’ll have the opportunity to help someone, that you will accept help, or that something extraordinary will happen. You’ll meet a long lost friend. You’ll have a friend pray for you and you will be healed from pain or anxiety. Ken Harger, a former pastor at Shiloh Community Church in Orleans, Michigan, called these moments “divine appointments.” Moments we pass off as “it’s a small world.” Be prepared for divine appointments. When you think you have one, hold onto it. Milk it. See if there is something more. It’s a big world after all. If I had been watching for special things to happen to me, I would not have waisted days testing my back. Instead, I could have gotten right to work sharing it with others. It’s a big world after all.
Say it: In that scene from “Moneyball,” if the players and umpires had not told Jeremy Brown he had just hit a home run, he’d still be at first base. When the extraordinary happens, tell your friend. Say it to your spouse. “What if they think I’m crazy?” So what. We’re in search of the extraordinary here. Life changing, life-giving, that energy providing person or event. Don’t worry about the reaction of others. In most cases, if you have a strong inner circle, you’ll hear them say things like “hey, that happened to me yesterday…” Seek confirmation through talking about it. Seek affirmation by saying it out loud. It could be life-changing and that’s worth the effort. If they laugh at you, that’s okay. God doesn’t need your defense. When I start talking to people about Susan’s prayer and my healing, I find it unleashes a powerful truth for me. Affirmation in a supernatural creator! Sometimes people are encouraged by it. Sometimes.
Be thankful: You had three people tell you today that you have a great voice. “Awe shucks, I think my voice sounds weird.” Nope. Respond like this: “Thank you! What do you like about my voice?” Be thankful for comments from strangers, friends, family. Open up! Practice saying “thank you” and practice thanking God for these comments. And if they’re negative, still be thankful. We’re looking for extraordinary things and opportunity for growth. I’ve met people who tell a story of that one statement said to them that changed the course of their life. They were open to it. They were thankful. I’ve heard both wonderfully positive stories or tragically negative. Either way, there is thankfulness. Be diligent in your watching and remain thankful!
Dear People, my back and the rest of me have been essentially pain-free for the past fifteen years. Well, I did ride a roller coaster at Michigan’s Adventure park too many times and that really hurt. Okay, and…I blew out my calf running in a 5K. But ice and ibuprofen helped me bounce right back. The subject of supernatural healing opens up lots of room for discussion. But I want to talk about your character. Can you accept wondrous things being given to you? Do you love yourself enough to be thankful and accept it? Would you give it to someone else if given the chance? Go for it. Take a swing today. But if the ball goes sixty feet over the fence and you don’t realize it, it’s gonna be okay. There is Someone very near to help you get up and send you on your home run trot. There’s a mystery to it.
*Youtube: scene from “Moneyball.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn7C6jgl0RI