alright. this is a story i wrote about 2 weeks ago, just on a whim. hope you like it...and post comments because now you can!
The Playing Field:
Imagine in your mind, a man, wearing simple jeans and t-shirt, standing with his arms upon a chain link fence, staring forlornly out across a basefall field. The grass is green and lush, and the players on the team dash back and forth, throwing the ball, practicing their swing, playing catch. He sighs, and in his heart, wishes he could join the players, but knows that it isn't time.
Again, later, the same man, finally in a practice uniform. He's in the locker room, suiting up with the guys, joking, getting pumped up for the coming game. He rushes out onto the field, excited for a chance to finally play, but as he runs eagerly to the field, he is stopped by the coach before his feet can touch the beautiful green grass, and he is delegated to "warming the bench." Again, a sigh echoes from his heart...his desire is to play, to enjoy the gift that has been given to him from God. He glances longingly at the players as they prepare, yet he is only one step closer, not yet accepted into the brotherhood.
Finally, he's called to play! Will he make or break the game? Is it time for him to shine? He thinks to himself, it is the time...it is the chance to make it big, to show that he too, can play. Bottom of the ninth, 2 outs, and the game is tied... he is up to bat. Swing one...strike. swing two...steerike! swing three...the ball glides into the mitt of the catcher, and the soft crack of leather upon leather signifies his defeat, in his moment of glory. Dejected, the bat slides from his hands as he falls on his knees, crying out in frustration to the Lord above. "Why Lord? Why must I fight through this, struggle day in and day out to achieve what I desire, and I know you desire for me? What must I do?"
As time continues, he practices day in and day out. Focusing on school only when necessary, he spends each free moment throwing, running, swinging. Determination is the name of his game. When he is done, his hands are hardened from the rough maplewood on his fingers, the smell of leather constantly on his catching hand, his pitching fingers permenantly curved as if gripping a baseball. He is ready.
As the season continues, despite his training, his devotion, his wholehearted effort, he continues to warm the bench, to watch and wait as the world seems to pass him by, day by day. Surrounded by his teammates, he cannot but wonder why he would ever get a chance. Dejected, he begins to contemplate all that they have and he does not. They are better runners, throwers, batters. What does he have but heart, dedication and a desire to reach for the best? Heart doesn't matter without skill in this world. Pain grips his soul as he realizes the truth - that the world does not want his kind. The world wants the stars, the bright, shining sons who could send a ball into orbit.
Again, he sinks to his knees, beaten in the knowledge that this world is not for him. "Father" he cries...."What must I do? Who can I turn to but You? Hear my words Father - you made me in your image Lord...you made me to be all I can be. What is this place I call home...why must it be this way?" By now, his knees are digging into the dirt in the dugout as he lifts his hands in the air. "Lord...show me Your way...show me what You want me to chase after...show me Your heart, Your desires. For You know the desires of my heart."
He rises, and again slides onto the pinewood bench, feeling it's familiar grain, knowing it well. For he has seen the seasons pass, the team change, the practices so numerous that they cannot be remembered nor counted. IN quiet protest, he tosses his mitt to the ground as he exits the field, leaving behind a plume of dust, signifying defeat.
Again he has returned to his former posistion...watching quietly from the fence...seeing the pitcher throw, watching the runners run, and the batters swing. A sigh, all too familiar, again wells up from his soul. But in his heart, he feels differently. Reaching again into his bag, he pulls out his mitt. Worn and faded, laces loose, the pocket scarred from years of use, he stares at it, remembering what he has seen and done, what he has given up to be all that the world wants him to be, all the pain he has endured only to see the world turn it's back on him. The memories flood back as he realizes that he has wasted many hours, days, weeks, months...even years upon this field that holds nothing for him anymore. The excitement is gone, the desire for what it offers have faded into the distance, nay, they seem mere wisps upon his synapses.
He turns his back on the field for one last time. Not to return tomorrow, not to long for it's lures and desires again. No longer to find comfort in the feel of the glove, to find purpose in the power of the bat, to find focus in the curvature of the ball. Behind he leaves a field of broken dreams, of worldly desires crushed, situated in a place in which he does not belong, and never has.
He feels a stirring in his heart, something he has felt ever since he first stood at the edge of the field long ago, something he knew was true, was right, was the answer. But before now, he had never felt it so strongly, and suddenly his heart was filled with the desire to run home. He ran for blocks upon blocks, passing streets with names he had not seen for years, with houses that suddenly became wonderful memories of childhood, of playing in the streets. Finally, he arrived at a place he called home.
Everything was in the same place. The grass was it's luminescent shade of green, the house freshly painted, the windows still open, inviting. But as he crossed the front steps, a fear gripped his heart. It has been so long since he had been home! Would he be accepted? Would he be remembered? Or would he be turned away, never again to know the love and joy he had once felt? At this he almost turned away, but felt the desire to knock even more upon his heart.
Facing his fears, he reached up, slowly at first, but then with more determination and desire to conquer his fear. His fist hesitated, but, with a stern look on his face, he rapped a quick three knocks on the door, then stepped back with a repentant look on his face. While it seemed like an eternity, not but a second had passed and the door opened, and his eyes flew open wide.
Quickly he found himself fully embraced in the largest bear hug he could remember, his Father's arms. A flood of memories came rushing back to him, smells, sights, feelings that he had not felt for years. The soft, yet strong feeling of his Father's hands, rough from each day's hard work, yet smooth and comfortable from his play with His children at all hours of the day. The tough smell of freshly cut wood, refreshing in it's own way, reminding of the grace shown each day as he pushed through life with his Father's help. And the smile is what finally broke his heart. Wide as you can imagine, toothy and hearty all in one, it came accompanied by the words "My son, you have returned home. Welcome, enter and rest, for you are weary of heart." A torrent of tears flowed from his eyes as he buried his head in his Father's beard, managing to cry out "But I have been away so long from you Father, how can you accept me again?" His Father's reply was simple and strong, comforting as He said "My son, you are always welcome, no matter what you have done or what you have yet do to. My arms are open wide, all you must do is knock at the door, and I will welcome you home. Come inside, and relive again in your true home, and strive not for the pleasures of this world, but for the joy of the Lord." As the tears continued to flow, the pair entered through the door, and he finally knew he was home, home with his Father.