catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 5 :: 2013.03.01 — 2013.03.14


All in the mind’s eye

He was born a big baby. Perfect. Or so we thought for four weeks. At his first visit at the pediatrician, we learned that he had inherited a familial congenital condition. He was blind in one eye. But the look of concern on our pediatrician’s face said there was more. Our son’s head growth since birth did not follow along the arc on the graph. Instead, it shot off the page, a possible sign of hydrocephalus. We were plunged into another world heavy with research and “what ifs?” as we surrendered him to God’s loving purpose. Several weeks later we returned to have another measurement taken. The conclusion: he was a big boy with a rapid growth rate.

What does it take to make something that might seem disastrous easier to deal with? Something like finding out, after all, that your baby would not have brain surgery, a shunt inserted, possible retardation and all kinds of heartbreaking implications for his life. We rejoiced in the blessed normalcy of our broad-shouldered baby. It was all God’s merciful grace to order this for our journey, helping us to embrace “just” one blind eye. Hallelujah! Our son had all the same, regular needs as any normal child!

So then, how do you raise a single vision child? The same way you raise a child who sees with two eyes: with all the creativity and encouragement designed to broaden his life. We purposed to raise him to develop and enjoy his amazing, God-given imagination, that which every child comes with, so that he could do anything he wanted to, no less than any child with two seeing eyes. With much praise, we discovered that God, in His merciful plan, had given him a consistent dominance in right eye, right hand, and right foot. Our fast-growing boy showed a special love for any game that involved a ball. Would he be a gifted athlete, like his daddy? At age two-and-a-half, he would ask me to put his baby sister in for her nap to go outside and pitch to him. Consistently, he would hit seven out of ten balls with his small, narrow, wooden bat — this, with his blind, left side facing me. He knew he could do it. Six years later, he was a winning pitcher in Little League.

As he grew, his real love for sports exploded in soccer and basketball. Years later, he still holds unbroken scoring records in both sports in his high school. He was offered college scholarships in both soccer and basketball. He chose basketball. After college, while in seminary, he coached his high school alma mater’s varsity soccer team. Shortly before the season began, his blind eye became painful, and had to be removed. Two eye doctors competed for his young, fresh cornea, each for his own son. It was our son’s delight to think of what his gift would mean to its recipient, giving a great sense of fulfillment in his gift of giving.

His reputation grew. He was invited to join a professional basketball team in Bahrain. That first season, the night he won the tournament for them, elated team members carried him on their shoulders through the streets. They sacrificed a lamb in celebration of their victory. No one knew of his prosthetic eye. If they had, he would not have been on their shoulders, for anyone with a disability or blemish of any kind was looked upon as more like a dog there. It gave him a deep compassion for individuals in that culture.

Another invitation came, this time for him to play on a Division One German basketball team. Their teams are allowed one American player. Since our son also has German citizenship, this team would have two Americans playing for them. They recruited him especially for his ability to hit three-point shots. One doesn’t bother trying those consistently unless he believes it’s possible to make them. From a young age, he knew he could do it. No one had ever told him he shouldn’t try.

No, it’s not safer to protect a child from normal, potential risks. It’s the spark of imagination that brings one’s spirit alive to taste possibility, to run headlong into life, to fulfill one’s gifts, to discover God’s path for his life. How sad for any child to miss experiencing the joy of leaping forward, anticipating, risking, drinking in a challenge, and trying again and again. Each one must be let go to try his own wings, to rise to his own personal altitude, to fly higher and higher out of his own life choices. It’s not just about sports. It’s about life, and the path God plans for that life, imagining the good one can do for others, imagining sharing the joy of knowing God’s love, thinking up new ways to bless those who need help. All of these now flow freely in our son’s life of ministry, as he reaches out creatively and imaginatively, out of his own sky’s-the-limit experiences, to enrich others’ lives. 

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