I'm gonna tell you a story. Right now, this story is not a feel good story. But this story isn't finished yet. The end of the story right now won't be the end of the story forever. The end of this story right now is hard to explain, but there is a lesson in it for me, and I think one for you as well. I need to hear that lesson. Here is the story.
There was a young man. He is a phenomenal baseball player. He is pretty well known and respected in his community. He always treats people with respect and kindness. He stood for a lot. A hard worker who is an outstanding person both on and off the field.
I met Kevin Wise when he was a 7th grader, I was then a senior in high school. We held a one day spring baseball camp out at the high school, inviting local middle school baseball players to come out and practice with us and learn from us for a day. Kevin was one of the guys I spent a lot of time with that day. I remember watching him move around and thinking, this kid is going to be pretty good one day. He batted left but he threw right. He had a gun hanging from his right shoulder for a 7th grader. I liked everything about this kid. I like his game, I like the way he called me sir even though I was 18 years old and unworthy, and I liked the way he carried himself.
But he wasn't just talented. This kid worked hard. He had a motor. He wasn't satisfied in just being a good athlete, he wanted to be the best athlete. He was no giant. Kevin wasn't the one to tower over a crowd or to have to duck under a doorframe or a low ceiling. But he had a huge heart. He was a young man of good strong moral character, who went about his business the right way. He never expected to be given anything, he had and was always ready to work for everything.
Fast forward now to Kevin's senior year in High school. By this point Kevin has had an illustrious high school baseball career and has received a scholarship to go play baseball at a Division I school, one with a great baseball program. He has developed a reputation for his faith in Jesus, his athletic ability, and his personality. I don't know Kevin that well. I never really have. I'm 5 or 6 years older than he is. But every time I see him we always catch up. We talk about baseball and life and what is soon to come for him when he starts his collegiate career. We also have a lot of mutual friends, and I see the effect he has on other people. I hear the way they talk about him.
So one Friday afternoon in the early spring Kevin has baseball practice. The season is starting up soon. It will be his last one as a high school player before he goes off to play in the fall. He goes home after practice and goes to bed like normal. He is supposed to have practice the next morning.
But Kevin never makes it to Saturday morning practice. Friday's practice was his last. Kevin passed away that night in his sleep.
I told you from the start that this wasn't going to be a feel good story. I meant what I said.
I don't know why things happen. Sometimes I say that I wish I knew why, but I'm glad I don't. It teaches me to continually rely on God's sovereignty. I don't know why Kevin died. I can't see the answer to that question right now. But I trust one thing. I trust that one day, there is an eternal value that I just can't see yet. Somehow, something is going to happen to bring glory to Jesus Christ because of Kevin's life. Maybe it will be one of his teammates coming to know Jesus, maybe someone in his family, I don't know. But I trust that God has a plan and this is working in perfect concordance with that plan. It's the only way you can explain something like this. A 17 year old outstanding young man, a great athlete in great shape, going to sleep at night and never waking up. God has a plan I just can't see it right now. One day I hope He will show me.
When stuff like this happens sometimes I loose perspective and I get frustrated or ask why, but I think a better thing to do is turn to God's word. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I'm thankful that I knew Kevin. I'm thankful for the young man that he was and the impact he had on people. I'm thankful for the lesson that is in Kevin's life for me. The lesson that this life is fleeting. It can be gone in an instant. It's not important how far you can hit a baseball, how much weight you can lift, or what you have in your bank account. What is important is who you are in Christ Jesus, what He has done for me and for you, and making him famous in our lives and our world. What am I doing with my time? How am I maximizing my impact on God's kingdom? How can I live best for Jesus today?
I pray that whatever God's will for Kevin's life would come through now after his death. Thats why I said in the beginning that this story is not over yet. It still has a lot of chapters to go. I pray that lives would be changed, and that Kevin's legacy now will come through in helping to make a disciple that makes a disciple that makes a disciple of Jesus.
Whenever I think about where Kevin is right now and what he is doing right now, my mind goes numb. I can't even begin to imagine. I want to know what he sees, who he is talking to, what he is doing. Pictures and images can hardly form in my mind to think about what he is experiencing right now. I can't imagine. I will see it someday, and maybe I will see him someday. I might even joke around and ask him why he didn't want to go to practice on Saturday.