Many years ago Stephen and I made the decision that our children wouldn't play sports on Sunday. (Stephen made the decision and I agreed with it) It was an easy decision to make with him being a pastor and an obligation to be at our church on Sunday. It was also an easy decision because the opportunity of playing on Sunday had never presented itself to us, however we saw the popularity of travel baseball teams on the rise and knew the subject would come up sooner, rather than later.
When Samuel was 7, he made the all-star baseball team for the league he played in. We were very proud of his success in the field. It felt like he was ready to play in the major leagues! This was the first year we were brought face to face with the decision we had made. The bracket was made up so that we played a Sunday afternoon game. We explained to Samuel that he wasn't going to play that game and he was at peace with the decision. The next three years were the same way. Our team played on Sunday without Samuel at first base. The fourth year, when Samuel was 10, our team was really good. Really good. We were playing in a town two hours away and if we won on Saturday night we would play Sunday at 11:00. We won. And we drove home, while everyone else stayed. We would drive back on Monday if they won Sunday without us there. I cried all the way home. It was dark, no one saw my tears but I was devastated for Samuel. He handled the situation with grace that belied a 10 year old boy. I wish I could have. I fussed, and screamed at God for this decision that "we" had made and let Him know of my disappointment for the whole two hours. We returned to the tournament Monday, Samuel sat in the dugout the whole game with his glove on ready to play and never got the opportunity. It was the price he had to pay for his parents decision.
We pulled all of our children out of baseball when Samuel was 13. The league we were playing in was changing the way it had been organized for years and not playing on Sunday's was becoming a bigger complication than we cared to handle, for ourselves, our children, and the teams they were on.
Now baseball is Samuel's first love. He was playing baseball by himself in our yard when he was 3, throwing a ball up, hitting it and running the bases. He loved the sport, and not allowing him to play broke his heart a little, but once again he handled with such grace.
To add to the story, we homeschool. Which meant in Arkansas he couldn't play any school sports. That wasn't a big deal because he never wanted to play basketball or football and they didn't have baseball until 10th grade. The closer we got to 10th grade, it became a bigger deal!
As I look back on what happened next I can see God working in our lives and in our circumstances. We had moved to a new city when Samuel was in the eighth grade. It was a bigger city, with bigger schools and we only knew very few people. The summer before his 10th grade year the organization that oversees all athletic activities for the state decided that homeschool students could play sports if they took one academic class. It was a prayer answered! I needed someone to teach him geometry and he could play baseball.
I took him to school on the first day, met the coach, and left him for his first practice. His first high school practice and his first practice in 3 years. He made the team after a rough start, and he loved it! He loved the coaches and the sport.
The summer before his junior year the football coach ran into Stephen and asked if Samuel could kick. Stephen said probably and he would send him to practice. He made the team as the kicker. He made All-Conference in baseball and football his junior year while still being homeschooled except for a math class that he took at the public school.
His senior year he made All-State in football and was recruited by 3 colleges. Our minds were blown. He signed with a Division 1 college to be a kicker! It's unbelievable. But when I look back at how God worked through everything I'm more in awe of Him than ever before. God redeemed the tears I cried on that Saturday night drive home from a 10 year old's baseball tournament.
A decision we made as parents, ( that Stephen made as a proactive, God-honoring father), was redeemed with a full scholarship to play football in college. Now football was never a dream of Samuel's. Strangely, it was my dream. I love football, and the opening kickoff is my favorite part of the game, that my son would play is pretty perfect in my world. (And next year we'll have one playing high school football and one playing college football) Football is however, a sport with a ball, competition, and a team, all things Samuel loves with his whole heart.
I truly believe that making and honoring a vow we made to God to honor His Sabbath day, brought all of this to fruition. We moved to a new city under some pretty distressing circumstances, the athletic director of the school district we just happened to live in, is a faithful Christian man, the football coach was a man that had umpired Samuel's baseball games and someone we had known for over five years. Lastly, Samuel is a man after God's heart. I don't write that lightly. He has never once waivered from his devotion, love, or commitment to Christ. He has stood firm with his teammates, friends, coaches and even us about his convictions and commitment to living a God-honoring life. Don't get me wrong. Please! He has made mistakes. But all in all he has stayed out of trouble and has a good reputation.
We are so thankful to the Lord, our God. Thank you for Your watchful eye, for Your guiding hand, for Your wisdom and grace. We love you Lord, and want to do what honors and pleases You.
Ps. I am in no way saying that Samuel received a scholarship because of the decision we made. This isn't a story of a prosperity gospel, it's a story of God working in our lives. God would still be as awesome as He is today if Samuel had not been invited to play any college sport or if he had not lettered. We praise and love the Lord no matter our circumstances.