There are very few moments where everything seems to make sense. All the worry, all the stress, all the frustrations of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are gone. It all just makes sense.
Fleeting moments, rare, once every week, every month, every year, and for some, once in a lifetime moments.
This is a short story of a backpack, a self-centered father, and a joyous 3 year-old.
Wednesday nights are “league” nights. Starting in November and going through February, there are 10-13 Wednesday nights where “Dad” and some guys get to relive the glory days and get a little physical exercise in on the basketball court. Some might have their opinion about such leagues, that’s okay- you’re entitled to that.
We’ve made this night into a family night of sorts- sure it centers around a 40 minute game, but after, it’s a fellowship in our favorite truck stop breakfast/lunch/dinner joint. It’s team, it’s family, it’s more than just an escape for Dad.
The season is almost halfway done and the anticipation for Dad is real. The team hasn’t played in a few weeks so there’s excitement, camaraderie, and competition. For Dad, competition is a thing his soul craves- beating the opponent, showing up his defender, and making people smile with looks of “how did he do that.”
On this night, Dad prayed before the game that he’d be a light, a leader, and experience the spirit of Jesus in a way he hasn’t on the court before…
Back up for a minute. Some context:
Dad is known to be the notorious ‘guy’ that talks down to the ref, argues with the other team, showboats a little (sometimes too much), and gets so animated, that his teammates feel uncomfortable. Dad is the guy most want to punch… think of a mix of Steph Curry and Draymond Green, Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest- extremely competitive and confidently arrogant, but bad tempered too… you know- the guy you want on your team, but also want off your team.
That’s Dad. He’s something else…
Back to the story…
Jesus, prayer, and the whole experience thing. Dad wasn’t looking for a chance to share the gospel, he wasn’t looking for a moment to see heaven’s gates open, he was just looking to win, but win with class, lead with humility, and enjoy a night with his Wednesday family.
Dad got to the gym before the rest. This just happened to be the only night that’s happened. Dad goes through the normal routine, shoots a couple jumpers, makes a couple layups, and does his thing… he’s amped, his heart is racing, palms are sweaty, the ball feels like a feather- soft, easy, and pinpoint accurate.
Dad knows that voice, turns around and sees his 3 year-old running towards him.
“Daddy!!! I’m happy to see you.” (Think high squeak and annunciation issues here- like one of them toy dolls, but not so adultish)
He wraps his arms around around Dad’s legs in a tight hug and without hesitation says “Look, I gotta show you my backpack!! Look Dad, look.” He begins to open it. He then points to each thing in his backpack.
“My juice, my Buzz Whiteyear (That’s how he says it) shirt, I gotta book, and and juice and and a coworing (coloring) book, and and it’s my backpack, Dad.”
Dad’s heart stops, the noise of a busy gym with balls bouncing, guys talking is silent. He just stares at his 3 year-old with a love he’s never felt before.
A moment of clarity.
It all made sense. This is love. This is grace. This is Jesus. This is life.
The moment passed, the game started, but something was different about Dad. He didn’t have the same desire to win, the same desire to fight and compete, he just wanted to enjoy the team, the game, and for the first time in a long time, the score didn’t matter.
Well, it did, as Dad’s team got pummeled like never before- at one point being down 32, but that fiery, angry, passionate player just didn’t care. The entertainment was there, but the reality of what was changing in Dad’s heart was bigger, more important.
Maybe you’ve had that moment of clarity. Maybe you have a backpack story. This isn’t meant for any other purpose than to share the light of some truth- the things we worry about today, the pains of who we were in the past, and the uncertainties of who we will be tomorrow, they all can wait… because Dad finally felt a love he so desired.
An hour after the game at the hangout truck stop, Dad and the 3 year-old were back to pandering over sitting still in a chair, spilling salt and taking all the jellys out of the holders.
Life. Pure. Fluid.
Dad loves it.