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God Throws Jimmy a Curve Ball
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God Throws Jimmy a Curveball

By Cynthia Reeg

 

 

Jimmy slumped against the church pew. He frowned as the words to the opening hymn echoed in his ears. Rejoice in the Lord always…

            How could he rejoice? How could he be happy with God? This was going to be an awful summer. And it was all God’s fault.

            Jimmy had prayed every night for a month. He’d asked God to help him earn a pitching spot on his baseball team. He’d prayed extra hard to make this a fun summer before the start of fifth grade.

            Jimmy balled his fist up and thumped it against his leg. God hadn’t answered his prayers at all. He was going to be an outfielder again for Smitty’s Sluggers.

Jimmy had found out even more bad news on the drive to church today.

            “Listen up everyone!” His dad had glanced back, looking directly at Jimmy. “In just two weeks we’re all going on a family camping trip to Lake Bluebird.”

“That’s when I go to summer camp with Pedro!” 

“We need to cut expenses this year.” His dad turned back to his driving. “Sorry. No Camp Galahad this summer.”

“But we’ll have lots of fun company,” said his mom. “Granddad and your cousin, Albert, are joining us.”

Jimmy’s mouth had dropped open then. He’d been too stunned to speak.

With his cousin along, the lame camping trip would be even worse. Albert knew everything—or at least he thought he did. But he didn’t understand the stuff that really counted. Like baseball.

No pitching. No summer camp with Pedro. And with Albert along for the vacation—no fun!       

Two weeks later Jimmy dumped an armful of small branches by the camp woodpile. Just as he’d predicted, the camping trip was awful. Absolutely no fun! It was only the second day, and already Jimmy hated it. He kicked the woodpile in disgust.

            “OW!” he cried. Jimmy jumped in a one-legged zigzag, holding his hurt toe in his hand.

“Is that one of those new dance moves you said I should try?” Granddad grinned as he added a few more pieces of dry wood to the scattered pile.

 

 

curveballfinishedspread.jpg

2008 Candance J. Hardy

 

 

 

 

Jimmy smiled and stopped hopping. He hadn’t known his granddad was behind him. 

            “Where’s Albert at?” Granddad asked, as he began stacking the wood.

            Jimmy’s smile disappeared. “I don’t know and I don’t care. Ever since we’ve got here, all he’s done is talk about the stuff he’s such an expert on. Rocks and maps and falling stars.” 

Granddad stopped stacking. “It doesn’t sound like you’re having too good of a time.”

            “That’s for sure.” Jimmy sat down on a big log close by and loosened his shoe to give his hurt toe some breathing room. “This is about the worst summer ever.” 

 Granddad sat beside Jimmy.

            “I did what you said, Granddad. I prayed to God to help me out this summer. But He really let me down.”

            Granddad nodded. He stood stiffly and walked back to the woodpile. He carefully laid one log upon the other.

            “Sometimes it’s not easy to be happy with God,” said Granddad. “Even for grownups. When your grandma’s cancer kept getting worse no matter how much I prayed, I was angry at God.”

            “Not you, Granddad!” Jimmy frowned. “You go to mass every day, and you’re always taking flowers to the sick people. Aren’t those things you do because you love God?”

            “I only started growing the flowers as a favor for your grandma," said Granddad. "She loved gardening—especially the flowers. She was always trying to get me interested, but I never helped her until she got sick.

While I gardened, I prayed. I asked God to make Grandma well again so she could be with me."

            “God didn’t listen to you either, did he?” said Jimmy. He walked back to the woodpile.

            Granddad sighed. Jimmy laid his hand on Granddad’s shoulder. A pair of turtledoves fluttered onto a nearby branch. The pair snuggled close. Their soft coo’s awakened a memory for Jimmy. He pictured his granddad and grandma holding hands as Grandma lay resting in her hospital bed. 

Jimmy tugged on his granddad’s sleeve. “Don’t you remember that time in the hospital when you brought Grandma a bunch of flowers from the garden? She was so happy to see all her beautiful homegrown flowers. Especially one big white rose. She said it was her favorite.”

Granddad paused. He nodded. “It was a peace rose."

            "Yeah!” Jimmy agreed. “And Grandma said, ‘God has finally answered my prayers. He’s made you into a gardener after all!’” 

Granddad grinned. In a soft voice he said, “And now when I’m in the garden, I feel Grandma Beth is right there beside me.”

            Jimmy clapped his hands together. “There! Don’t you see? God was listening.” He helped Granddad to his feet. “I think I understand it now. God plays like he’s in the big league.”

“You think so?” Grandpa’s eyebrows arched up.

“Yeah.” Jimmy grinned. “Sometimes God throws us a curveball just when we were expecting a fast ball.” 

Jimmy tugged on his baseball cap brim as the words to the hymn floated into his head again. Rejoice in the Lord always… He breathed in the fresh forest air as a joyful peace spread through him. He fell into step with his granddad.

“Do you think maybe Albert might be one of God’s curveballs?”

Granddad threw his arm around Jimmy. “Might be.”

“OK,” said Jimmy, taking a deep breath. “I’m ready to take a swing at one of God’s big league pitches. I’m going to find Albert. He told me if I helped him hunt for rocks he might play catch with me.”

“Sounds fun,” said Granddad.

Jimmy grinned. He pulled a baseball out of his pocket. “Yeah, maybe. Curveballs and all.” 

 
 
 

2008 Cynthia Reeg

 

  

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