Monday, May 18, 2009

God's Left Hook

I can finally chew my Trident gum again...

Short of dental work, orthodontics, or some weird diet, I realize that statement may sound rather strange. So let me back up a week and a half, to a couple of days after I had bought a value pack of Trident and to the last time I had gum in my mouth, and I will fill you in on the story- since it HAS been so long since I have written, Kim.

Anyway, it was a normal Thursday night at home with the hubby still gone doing ministry work when I got a call to help out the church’s women’s softball team. They didn’t have enough players and were going to have to forfeit. I love to play, but as of late, my schedule had not allowed me to, so, at the last minute, I decided I would go. My kids were thrilled and as soon as we got there they headed off on their own adventures while I headed for the field…first base.
Softball is nothing new to me by any means. I have played since I was little and was in effect my daddy’s little boy. This is not to say I am outstanding at the game, but I do have solid fundamentals and a driving intensity. As for playing first, I am tall, limber, unafraid of a hard or crazily thrown ball and a pretty accurate catch, so it’s a good place for me to be. My second inning in the field seemed as though it would be like any other. I was checking the outs, the runners on base, aware of my own and other players positioning, as our pitcher threw the pitch that changed my night.
It wasn’t a line drive, it wasn’t even a fair ball. It was a high hit foul, easily catchable, by my calculations and past experience, by any first baseman. So I headed off in a dead sprint to make the easy out…

..…doing good, eye on ball, glove in air, other hand prepared to help trap ball…but then I had a thought….
”Where is the fence that I know is in this direction that I remember is broken and had a pole sticking out and oh my goodness! I remember when Jarrett didn’t pay attention to where the fence was and he ended up getting stitches right between the eyes, so I better glance, as I am in this sprint toward the ever looming fence, to see where it is so I don’t…BAM!(I slammed my fingers on the keyboard really hard when I typed that!)

Yes, BAM! TY-YOW! POP! POW! Any of that onomatopoeia would suffice to explain the split second it took for that not-so-softball to miss my glove and plummet into my chin/jaw.

It rather stunned me, I have to say. I remember thinking, “What just happened? DID that really just happen?” I had never moved my head from the direction of the ball, with my face and chin remaining up in the air to see the ball and make the catch. I had, however, slightly and quickly glanced to my left, and that was all it took for the ball to find a landing pad on my face rather than in my glove.

After impact, I took my glove off and thanks to Jesus, sat down calmly on the ground. I couldn’t really feel my jaw at the time so I reached up to try to see if my teeth were still there, and assess the damage. ALL my teeth were in place, praise the Lord!
But I was bleeding from a gash inside my mouth and had to spit out the blood over and over. This plus gum in the mouth is NOT a pleasant combo. So as everyone was huddled around, I spit out my small white piece of Trident gum. This elicited a rather overwhelming guttural response from onlookers who thought I had just spit out a tooth! Even through the pain, that was funny- and no- NOT intentional! (Thanks, Ashley, for being willing to pick it up had it actually been my tooth!)

And that my friends, was the last time I had gum in mouth until today.
Chew, chew, chew.

Oh since that night there have been many other “milestones”: not having to sleep with ice on my face, not drooling when I drink something, not having to sleep with cotton wedged in my gums, not having people stare at me like Jarrett took a swing, not having someone tell me I have something on my face, not having to cut all my food in little bitty pieces…and all these things came into my life because I had a split second thought that took my eye off of the ball.

I have thought about that moment so much over the past week and a half. What I did, what I should have done, what I could have done differently. You know, the sad thing is, the ball wasn’t even in play. It was a foul ball. I could have let it go, but I didn’t because I wanted to make the easy out. I chose to go after it, then I got distracted by what may or may not have been close enough by to cause a problem.

I all too often play out this same “game” scenario in my spiritual life. I go after good things, but not the best things, determined to make the easy play, then I get distracted. I take my eye off the ball. And the next thing you know…BAM! At least if I had been looking at the ball and missed it, I could have shielded myself from the impact. But I was looking at the distraction.

Matthew 7:13-14(The Message) says, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God…the way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention.”

I had taken a smidgen of my attention and placed it in the wrong place and the result was a painful wake up call.

There are so many distractions in my life, some of which are my welled intended pursuits and well thought out precautionary measures. Despite having a good basis in the fundamentals, I go after the wrong things, play it too safe, and or just don’t pay attention at all! The problem is simply this: I take my eye off of Jesus and His purposes for my life. The plays he asks me to be a part of are “vigorous”. The things of the Spirit I am to run after “require total attention”.

He reminds me in Isaiah 66:2 , “But there is something I’m looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say.”

He simply wants my focus and my obedience.
Nothing good comes from entertaining deadly distractions.
LIFE comes from setting your heart and mind on Jesus.

Believe me, my chin and my gum deprived mouth know all about it.

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words to build a life on.”
Matthew 7:24

Father, give me the courage and strength to make YOU the center of my attention in a world that throws distractions at my face at every turn! Empower me to do what you require in Matthew 7:21- “serious obedience-doing the will of my Father.” I don’t want to be guilty of adding you to my life like some impressive decoration. I want to be obsessed with You and the things of Your Spirit so that the glory is Yours and Yours alone. Help me keep my eyes, my heart, my spirit, my life, my words, my everything focused on You! Amen.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Romans 11:36
Mother's Day with my black and blue chin!
Looked more like Father's day with my 5 o'clock shadow!


  1. Hi Julie,
    This is Emily Stover. I just found your blog! I love it! Good words and great reminders. I'm glad I read it before I started my day today. It helped me get things in the right perspective...bummer about the injury. Glad you are back to chewing gum! :)