Steps to take when the future is uncertain

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Next steps
by Joy Dombrow
Oregon Blogger

Ten minutes before game time found me sequestered in my warm and quiet car, squeezing in a few minutes of productive reading as my son and his team readied themselves for baseball. Occasionally I would glance up to see them rotating through drills in heightened anticipation of finally being able to play a game after such a long stretch of rain outs. As I returned my thoughts to my book, I soon heard the faint, but distinctly injured cry of one of the players. With a squinted view through the windshield, I could tell that the coaches were tending to one of the boys on the ground. My eyes scanned the field looking for my son’s number, but when I could not land upon it, I knew that it was he who had been hurt



…again.

It has become an annual occurrence in baseball for my son to take a ball to the face. This time, a perfect grounder made an unanticipated hop at the last second, causing my son’s lip to split against his teeth on impact. As blood poured out upon his face, hands, and jersey, he cried and writhed in pain while his body trembled and became nauseous from the shock.

The coaches were compassionate and attentive, but as the precious minutes ticked by, I could see a question upon their countenance: Will he be able to play? Not wanting to be insensitive, they did not outright ask, but the last minute change in lineup could effect their strategy. I just looked at them and said, “I don’t know that he will be able to play. We will stay and watch, though.” I could not anticipate even the immediate future, and so it was the only way I could respond. We would just have to take it one step at a time. Knowing that if he didn’t get in the batting lineup on the first round that he would be excluded from playing, Nathan’s cries of pain became mingled with cries of disappointment.

“Let’s just get the bleeding to stop,” I prodded. I cleaned him up as he held a cloth to his lip, and the minutes ticked by.

“Now rinse.” I poured cool water over the scraped up skin as he leaned over the dirt. “Do you want a drink?” Gingerly he accepted the moisture.

“Let’s put ice on it to stop the swelling.” I held him as the shaking and sickness began to subside. Still more time passed.

“Can you swallow this Advil? It will help the pain”. A calm was returning as we waited for the medication to kick in.

“Do you want to sit over in the dug out and watch?” Agreement was his response and I sat with him on the bench. Tick. Tick. Tick.

“Are you okay with me leaving you here while I sit on the sideline?” He was, and I quietly stepped away.

As the game played on, I had no idea whether or not my son would get to play. Each step of action was the momentary and logical requirement of the situation. We just need to stay calm and do the next thing, without concerning ourselves with matters too far into the future. It is an important principle of life. Instead of worrying about the ultimate outcome of a relationship, a job, or life circumstance, it would be much better to focus on today, put one foot in front of the other, and do the next thing by faith.

Steps of faithfulness.

Steps of perseverance.

Steps of trust.

Steps of obedience.

Individually they are not grand steps, but strung together they lead down a path to a admirable goal. We just need to do what is right in the moment, focusing on what we can control and not worrying about the things that we cannot. It’s my mom’s signature statement: Trust God and do the next thing.

Not too many more minutes passed by before I saw my son put on his batting helmet and gloves. He stepped on deck and my heart began to race. I suppressed the instinctual fear that he would be in pain, or fail because of the trauma, or re injure himself. He was being brave, and mature, and taking his next step by faith.

He had a big hit that day and was able to score the tie run for his team. Thirty minutes before, we weren’t even sure if he would be able to play. Life is full of lessons, isn’t it? When you are down and the future looks uncertain, just take the step in front of you and do what is right for the moment.

Pretty soon, you just might find yourself back at the plate, swinging for the fences.