RITE OF PASSAGE: Got Bears?
Several years ago, I made the mistake of playing baseball with some teenagers. When it was my turn at bat, the students started chanting, “The old man is up, the old man is up,” making fun of the difference in our ages.
Every time a teenager teases me, I go to 2 Kings 2:23-24 for comfort. In this story, some young people made fun of Elisha, and he put a curse on them. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the youths.”
Isn’t that one of the greatest passages in the Bible? I have prayed Elisha’s prayer on several occasions, but I have yet to see any bears come out of the woods. You would think such a powerful prayer would produce at least a squirrel or two, even today.
Since the prayer of Elisha doesn’t seem to work in Tulsa, I had to think of another one that would teach these young people a lesson. As I stood with my bat on my shoulder, I remembered the way Samson prayed, asking God for extra strength one more time before he brought the house down. “Lord, I beseech you by the mercy of God, Please granteth me a home runneth. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (When I pray in King James in English, the Lord knows it’s a top priority prayer).
As their chanting grew louder, the young people began to move in, drawing well inside the infield. The pitcher moved up to within 10 feet of home plate. The center fielder came to second base, and the second baseman came to the pitcher’s mound. I continued my prayer, “Lord, please granteth me strength one more time.”
As the pitcher released the ball, I knew it came straight from God. I leaned back and pulled the bat forward with all my strength, connecting with a loud “crack.” As the ball sailed upward, I took off and ran, and ran and ran, and finally made it to . . . first base. I scanned the outfield. Some of the students were standing in a daze, and others were chasing after the ball. I ran to second base and looked out again to see one of the outfielders picking up the ball. That gave me time to run to third base. As I stood on third base, I saw the second baseman catching the ball. Looking toward Heaven, I said another little prayer, “Lord, I’m coming home.” Then I took off, running toward home plate.
Halfway there, my life entered the “Chariots of Fire” mode. I could see myself, running in slow motion. In my peripheral vision, I could see the baseball, traveling at the same speed. I knew it would be close, so I decided I would just slide into home plate . . . yes, this overgrown baseball player dove into the plate, hitting the junior high kid-catcher and plowing both of us into the backstop. But I DID IT! I made a home run! Being the mature one of the bunch, I started chanting back at the students, “Na, nana na na; I made a home run.”
They looked horrified. One of them said, “Brother Walker, look at your knee.” Looking down, I realized I had torn my knee wide open on the edge of home plate. As the blood continued to spurt from the wound, I looked up at the students and began to jump up and down, yelling, “Na nana na na, I made a home run!!!”
That day, I learned a great truth: When you make a home run, the pain doesn’t matter. Every woman who has given birth knows what I am talking about. The joy of seeing your child for the first time outweighs the struggles of the last nine months, and especially the pain of the last few hours of delivery. This also holds true when you take the time and trouble to apply God’s Word to your parenting. Raising children is not easy. Many of you are tempted to pray Elisha’s prayer at least three times a day. But one day, when you see your children begin to become capable, responsible, self-reliant adults, the pain goes away, and joy fills its place.
By the way, if Elisha had lived in Tulsa when he prayed that prayer, I wonder what animal God would have chosen as His animal of correction for those teenagers? A possum?