When Andy comes to visit, I know I'm going to learn something.
My brother and sister-in-law, Debbie, and 4 of their 7 kids visited last week. We played putt-putt, rode go-carts, visited Bass Pro and ate at Lambert's. But those were just the different settings to do what I like to do best with them...talk.
I think it was after our first meal together that Andy pushed back from the table and asked, "You know what Joaquin Andujar says is one word to describe baseball?" Potential answers started flying. I suggested "depressing." (It's depressing because of baseball stats. How can you be a really great hitter when, batting a solid 300, you are messing up in one way or another 7 out of 10 times at the plate?)
He then proceeds to tell us Andujar's answer: "You-never-know."
Obviously not a one word answer, but when you read a little about Joaquin and a few more of his quotes, it quickly becomes obvious that he would not change the phrasing of that question.
"You-never-know." We talked about the truth of that, not only in baseball, but also in life, as we sat around a table full of empty plates. My contribution to that conversation took us back to January 2008, when Luke and the Bolivar boys basketball team beat the Branson Pirates in double overtime at their place. Branson, always a formidable opponent, had just won the Blue Division of the prestigious Blue & Gold tournament. Bolivar was their first game after that little accomplishment. Right before the game started, there was a presentation of the trophy, an honoring of one of their players who set a 3 point record for the tournament, and the announcement that there would be a reception for their coach - celebrating his career wins - immediately following our game. Lou and I never said what we all thought was a given - "We are about to get killed." I was just hoping it wouldn't be too mortifying.
But, you never know.
I couldn't possibly do justice if I tried to describe that game and my blood pressure. Suffice it to say, we stayed with them (obviously), and played our hearts out. Thankfully, Lou and I succumbed to Faith begging to go to the game that night. She just happened to have her movie camera, and captured the excitement of that final minute. She was going crazy too, so the video jumps around a bit, but it's good enough to give us a lot of pleasure when we watch it and remember that game.
Hands down, the most exciting, happiest basketball game I've ever been to. It's also the example I use with my kids when we are facing some opponent in the sport du jour that is supposedly unbeatable. It's my "Remember the Alamo" of sports. "Remember Branson!" You never know.
This theme that Andy introduced their first day here cropped up again when Andy, Debbie, and I were walking in Dunnegan Park. Out of the blue, Andy mentions another "you never know" moment. He asked if I remembered the story in the Bible about the lepers outside the gates of Samaria. I didn't, so he told it to me, and I'll share the gist of it with you. It's from 2 Kings 7.
During a horrible famine in Samaria, with no hope in sight, Elisha prophesies that "this time tomorrow" there will be food - even enough food to sell. What those suffering from the famine didn't know was what was happening just outside their city gates. Four lepers were trying to stay alive also and were considering their options. If they ask to go into the city, they'll die from the famine. If they stay where they are, they'll die. But if they go over to the camp of their enemies, the Arameans, and surrender, they'll either be spared or killed. The Arameans seem like the only option with a possible win, so they go. The Lord had taken care of the Arameans himself, and the lepers find an abandoned camp with abundant food, drink, silver and gold - all left behind. The lepers then shared their find with the famine afflicted city. And all that happened by "this time tomorrow." So, once again, you never know.
Since my brother's visit, I've thought about our conversations even more. They've made me think about God more. I tested the "you never know" principle on Him. Do we "never know" with God? Well, kind of. That certainly was the case described here from 2 Kings 7. But while we may never know for sure what God is going to do (could this be possibly in part because we often think way too small?), we can know Him. He's told us who He is in His word. He's become one of us in His Son. And He's given us His Holy Spirit to live in us. And when you know someone, when you look at their track record, you know whether or not they are completely trustworthy. God has proven He's trustworthy. 2 Timothy 1:12 says it best.
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
My brother, Andy, came to visit. This trip, I learned a little more about baseball, the Bible, and God. That's a little entertainment and a lot of encouragement - a winning combination. He always packs those two when he comes. What will it look like on their next visit? You never know.