I find it interesting, how God works. It's seldom in a way we would expect. Yet it is ALWAYS in a way that brings Him glory and praise. And here I am, writing about how God has placed me in front of this keyboard today to tell you a story of pain and suffering that transformed itself into a story about grace and mercy. Of love and of hope.
It's fall right now where we live. Leaves are turning colors. The temperature is at or near the freezing mark most mornings. We and the sun get less and less face-time. All the plants are either going dormant or are just downright dying. And baseball season winds down to it's "fall classic" - The World Series. Fall can be a very beautiful time of year but it also can be a very depressing time of the year.
Recently, a friend of mine sent me a text message, telling me the cancer she and her doctors had
battled a few years ago was back. I went to visit her and her husband this past weekend. What a blessing that visit was.
My friend, her husband and I visited for over an hour. Talking about surgeries, and treatments, our children and life. We laughed, recalling stories from our childhoods and from our children's childhoods. We had a great visit, long overdue.
As I was leaving, I glanced back at my friends, a loving husband helping his wife, still sore from her surgery, back up the steps to their home. What a picture of love and compassion and grace. Their family has certainly endured their share of pain and suffering in this life, yet more is on the way for my friends. They will need our prayers.
Maybe it was the visit with my friend and the cancer that has taken so much from her life. Maybe it was the coming World Series about to begin. But my thoughts turned to a baseball player and a story I vaguely remembered from 25 years ago. The story of Dave Dravecky.
Dave Dravecky led the San Diego Padres to the World Series in 1987. In 1988 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants. He was an All-Star, and led the Giants to the playoffs. Then he noticed a lump forming on his pitching arm. It was cancer.
Surgery followed where the tumor, and 50% of his deltoid muscle, was removed. Doctors told him he would never pitch again. They didn't know Dave Dravecky very well.
Soon he was soft-tossing, then came a minor league assignment. On August 10, 1989 he returned to the Giants, pitching eight innings. The Giants won 4-3 that day. His next start in Montreal was the last game he would ever play. He pitched three no-hit innings but then, in the sixth inning, during a pitch to Tim Raines, Dravecky's arm shattered. He was taken from the field on a stretcher, receiving a standing ovation from the Montreal crowd. The cancer has returned.
Doctors had to amputate his pitching arm and shoulder. His career as a baseball player obviously was over. His childhood dream, removed, along with his arm . . . his livelihood. More than enough to induce depression in ANY one. But . . . I think I forgot to tell you something. Dave Dravecky . . . is a Christian.
Followers of Jesus are not immune to pain by any means. It might actually increase. Certainly there is more persecution, more martyrdom. The thing about Christians is what they have been known to do with the hardships they encounter. It's what they do as they face the pain in their lives.
Dave Dravecky now travels the country as a motivational speaker. He has written a few books about his life, the cancer that ended his career, and the God who gave him hope during the darkest of times.
My friend, the one I visited the other day, is still recovering from her second cancer surgery. She told me during my visit that one of her nurses called her inspirational and that my friend had changed the nurses life, simply by how she handled herself during her whole ordeal.
"5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:5
I really encourage you to watch this video. It's a short video about Dave Dravecky and how Jesus led him through the darkest of times. But it is also a story about what Dave has done AFTER those dark times. He has shone his light, the light of Christ, for all to see. We should consider the lives of these two Christians, Dave and my friend, and follow their example. Our pain and suffering may not be as great as theirs, but we can still shine. Shine On!
Dave Dravecky Interview
This story is dedicated to Ali and Dave, to Sara, and to Dave and Jan Dravecky