I was winning.
Nothing too strange about that. The backyard baseball games with my son are usually close on purpose, which is much more important than who wins or loses. Sometimes I let him win in an effort to teach him how to be a gracious victor. And sometimes I makes sure he loses, because being a gracious failure is equally important. He’s going to face both triumph and setback in life. Best to teach him about both now, when he’s young.
This time, though, I was going to leave the end result to him. He would win or lose on his own, and it all came down to one pitch.
Tie game, two outs, last inning. A homerun (in our backyard, homeruns are anything that passes the maple tree in the air) wins. Anything else, and he’d have to wait until the next evening to try again. Mother and sister were on the porch, watching and cheering. He took his stance, glared, and tapped on the rock we used for home plate.
I had already started my windup when he called time. Rather than take another practice swing or spit, he raised his hands in the air, looked to the heavens, and said, “In the name of Jayzus, lemme hit a homer!”
Laughter from the porch. I wrinkled my brow. Said, “What are you doing?”
“Heard it on the radio,” he told me. “Preacher said God gives me anythin’ if I ask in the name of Jayzus.”
Oh. Jayzus = Jesus. Okay then.
He stepped back in, tapped the bat on the rock. Glared. I threw. He hit.
Over the maple tree. Homerun.
That’s how it started.
Since then, the name of Jayzus has been bandied about quite often in our house. I heard it the next evening when my son lost the Lego spaceship he’d built—“In the name of Jayzus, come back to me!” Heard it again a few hours later—“In the name of Jayzus, save me from the bathtub!”
And then this morning—“In the name of Jayzus, let me at a Pop-Tart and not eggs!”
Comical, yes. And I suppose it’s even more comical that in all those instances, things worked out just the way he wanted. He did find his Lego spaceship. And since he’d stayed indoors all day because it was about a million degrees outside, we allowed him to forgo his bath. And we were out of eggs this morning, out of everything really. Except for Pop-Tarts.
My son thinks he has quite a thing going on here. He believes he’s just stumbled on the secret to life, that he’s won some sort of supernatural lottery. You should see him strutting around.
Me, I say nothing. Sometimes it’s best to let these things play out on their own. Sticking my Daddy Nose into it, telling him he’s really kind of wrong about the whole thing, won’t work. The big things in life tend to be the ones you have to learn on your own.
Besides, I really don’t think I’m qualified to add any wisdom. Not with this. Because I pretty much do the same thing.
I use God as a rabbit’s foot. I tend to keep him around in my pocket and pull Him out whenever there’s trouble. Not so much when I lose a Lego spaceship, but definitely when I want something bad to go away. Or when I want something good to get a little closer.
Or just when I want.
Truth is, I’m no better than my son.
Maybe what’s best is that I talk to him about this after all. Just be honest and say that yes, he’s doing something wrong, but so am I. And maybe we can figure out this thing together.
Because God wants us all to love Him for who He is, not for what He can give.