My son Dalton loves baseball and the Atlanta Braves – in that order. He’d rather be playing than watching. One of my jobs as his Dad is to throw and bat him balls so he can be assured of making the Braves in 6 years. To this end, I dutifully throw him my best Jair Jurgens fast balls, sliders, and any change-up I can think of. But Dalton doesn’t really feel like he’s had a professional work-out unless I hit him some smokin’ line drives and high flies.
There was just one little problem standing in the way of me providing the best in live action batting – I didn’t have a bat. This troubled Dalton and he proceeded to gnash his teeth in anguish as I solemnly explained that the 2′ bat he gave me just wasn’t going to give him the type of catching action he was looking for.
With that, he marched off to the woods and cut down a cedar tree. Soon, he triumphantly appeared with something that looked like a Christmas decoration. He said, “Whaddya think, Dad?” I half looked at it and mindlessly asked, “What is it?” He stared up at me with a surprised look and said, “Why it’s your baseball bat!” It looked like firewood to me – and poor firewood at that.
Dalton produced a knife and started cutting off branches. Then the bark came off. After an hour or so, son-of-a-gun if it didn’t resemble a large knotty club. He worked on it all day – shaping and carving to get it just right. “Hit one to me Dad!” he said exuberantly. The bat looked pathetic. All I could think of was taking a heavy swipe at the ball and watching it go off in some crazy direction. “C’mon, Dad, hit one… try it!” Guilt flooded my heart as I picked up the bat that my son had so painstakingly carved for me – his Dad. “Feels kind of nice” I thought. “OK, Dalton, let’s give this a try!” I shouted.
I threw the ball up in the air and swung the great big hand carved tree branch masquerading as a bat. The knots looked like eyeballs staring out from all directions. The bat and ball made a sharp ‘tock’ sound as I connected with the maiden hit. Immediately, the ball took off on a solid high fly that went right over Dalton’s head. I stood there in stunned disbelief and then stooped over and picked up another ball. This time I connected with a solid line drive that would have thrilled Yunel Escobar and my son was no exception. The bat was incredibly solid. Each hit produced a quiet but satisfying ‘tock’ sound that launched the ball on a fast journey toward my son turned professional ball player.
I looked at the bat in wonder. How could it be so good? I would have thought that the ball would consistently fly off in unpredictable directions. Instead, the ball took off like a rocket, almost always where I wanted it to go. And the bat gave a satisfyingly solid connection with the ball.
It was then I remembered Dalton had made a bat for his younger sister. And she learned to hit using the bat he made for her – the same way he made one for me. You see, I simply didn’t have $50 bucks to go out and blow on bats for Emily and me. So my son solved the problem by making one for his sister and one for me.
I got to thinking about how he was resolved to solve. There was the problem – he wanted me to hit him some balls and I didn’t have a bat. My mind-set was either go out and buy one or not play. He was resolved to find a raw source and make a bat out of it. I never thought it would work. He never doubted it would work. In the end, his resolve to solve won out and I learned a valuable lesson from a 12 year old young man.
Philippians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ who is within me. Dalton didn’t look to the left or the right. He walked straight over to the woods and made himself a bat. He didn’t ask anyone for anything. His was the independent nature of someone who is comfortable solving problems on his own. No government hand-outs here. No program necessary for a youth who didn’t want to spend money on a bat – instead he made one. For Dalton, I suspect the game will always go on. He won’t be standing around blaming circumstances for his problems. His solutions will be home grown, sometimes crude, but generally effective.
The bat my son made me is my favorite bat. I’d like to go into a league game and whack a ball right out of the field with it. Dalton doesn’t doubt that I can do it. I have reservations. But all I need to do is swing the bat and find out.