A Fallen World: Understanding that this world is not what we live for

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Olivia was seven years old and she came to me saying, “Dad, I want to bat left handed.” My eyebrows came together and, I am sure, a quite puzzled look shot across my face.

“Ok, why”? I asked.

“I will be closer to first base when I hit, so I can get on base easier when I play.”

First off, not too many 7-year-old kids think about what batter’s box they want to stand in when they play softball, let alone strategize how to increase her on-base percentage. I had no idea how I would teach my right-handed daughter to hit left handed.

I knew when she started to walk and talk that God wired her just a little different. Everything was a competition and a fire emitted from her eyes anytime she thought there was a chance she would lose. Whether softball, a foot race or Candy Land, the kid wanted to compete and win, win every single time.

Amber and I walked in a painful silence around the hospital, waiting to hear from the doctors who were performing the reconstructive surgery on Olivia’s jaw a month after the accident. The dreams of seeing Olivia ever compete at any level faded with every step we took. I could hear Amber’s quiet sniffles, knowing tears were flowing. We were two broken souls just trying to find a place to land. We did not know if she would ever wake from the coma and watching her play softball again was a dream we put in an invisible coffin and buried deep in a place we had never known.

A dear friend of mine once told me, “Expectations are premediated resentments”. My heart wanted to grow resentful toward God. I hated every step Amber and I took around the hospital that day, because it felt as though every step confirmed that the dreams we had for our daughter were gone. My expectations for our lives here in this world were crushed, shattered and gone forever.

We sat and tried to share a coffee together. Waves of pain surged through my soul. I just wanted it to stop. I took Amber’s hand and I prayed. I had no idea what else to do. Somewhere from deep within my soul, probably not far from where the dreams were buried, the Lord spoke to me. He reminded me, we were never meant for this world.

Over and over, those words from the Lord rang in my heart, in some ways combating the fears and reminding me of God’s bigger plan. A small glimmer of peace sparked. The pain still very real, yet a new reminder kindled in the midst of this tragedy that God’s plans are eternal. My eyes were focused on the temporary.

The hard truth to swallow was that whether Olivia lived or not, God had saved her from this broken world and she was a follower of Jesus Christ. God saved her from her biggest problem, sin. My heart began to shift and even though the pain still lingered, like steam coming from the coffee cup Amber and I shared, I began to look at a bigger truth. God’s plan for us is to live with him for eternity. Brokenness reminds me that we live in a fallen world and the power of the Gospel story is that Jesus saved us and set our eyes on heavenly things. By God’s incredible grace we can have eternal life.

Two weeks ago, Amber and I shared another coffee, but this one was very different. We stood watching Olivia tap her bat and step into the left side batter’s box. She took the first pitch and hit a hard, line drive into the gap for a double. One year after the hardest days of our lives, we are now watching God take what we thought was dead and resurrect it to life.

Today, I thank God. Strangely, not for what you would think. Yes, I am grateful to still have Liv with us. I am truly thankful though for the journey, the lessons and the greatest gift of all; the HOPE we have in Christ that reminds me we do not live for this world.

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