PyroManiac devotes Monday space to esoteric and offbeat things, in the hope that these will supply learning experiences for us all.
The worst great day of my life
James 4:13-15 says, "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."
Several years ago, the Lord (in the infinite wisdom of His good Providence) allowed me to experience something that has remained in my mind ever since as a perpetual reminder of that truth. It seems relatively trivial, but it was certainly memorable. And that is an effective way to learn a lesson such as this.
It was the perfect day, and I was in the perfect place at the perfect moment. It was one of those rare instances when you consciously sense the confluence of everything auspiciousyour own energy, the weather, the love of your family, and divine grace itselfand you feel as if God is smiling on you.
It was August 10, 1989. Darlene and I and the boys were on vacation. It was a warm day but not too hot. We were sitting in the front row of the left-field bleachers in Wrigley field. The Cubs were playing the Phillies.
Darlene and I had our very first date ever at Wrigley field in 1977, and we have both been devoted Die-Hard® fans of the Chicago Cubs ever since. So in 1989, when our three boys were finally old enough to appreciate the grandeur of it all, we used our vacation to make a long pilgrimage in our little Honda from our home Los Angeles back to where we had our first date.
On our first day in Chicago, we had standing-room only tickets on the third base side, far back under the canopy. The boys stood transfixed and paying close attention through the whole game. And the Cubs moved into first place in the pennant race that day.
But the next daythis daypromised even better things. We had seats in the front row of the bleachersthe greatest place in all the world from which to view Major League Baseball.
One moment from that day looms large in my memory. The score was 10-3 in the fifth inning. The Cubs were comfortably in the lead. They had already hit a couple of home runs that sailed right over our heads. This game was awesome. I was feeling good. A sense of absolute well-being swept over me.
I decided to roll my sleeves up over my shoulders and get some serious sun.
Darlene has this thing where she starts to act like a mother when everyone is having fun. And so she asked me if I didn't want some sunscreen for my pasty-white shoulders and knees. (She carries this big bag to baseball games, and she can pull anything she wants out of the bag.) Before I could even say no, she had dragged out about five varieties of sunscreen concoctions and started trying to foist them on me. But I didn't want lotion or oil. It makes you all gummy and sticky, and I didn't want to spoil a perfect moment.
Now that moment is frozen in my mind, and I have often recalled it, because that particular moment was one of the most perfect moments of my life. I was on vacationno pressure. My kids were loving it. My wife was especially beautiful in the outfield sun. A heroic aura seemed to surround me. The Cubs were comfortably out in front, and we had front-row bleacher seats on a day when the weather was as close to heaven as Chicago ever gets.
And the thing I remember most about that moment was what I said to Darlene when she started nagging me about putting on sun screen. She was warning me that I'd be sorry later if I didn't.
I said, "This is a perfect day. We've got perfect seats at the perfect game on a perfect day. The Cubs are in first place. They're way out in front in this game. The weather is perfect. Nothing will ruin this day."
As soon as those words escaped my lips, James 4:15 came to mind ("ye ought to say . . .") and my conscience smote me.
But before I could tack on the words "...Lord willing" to the end my sentence, a home run from the bat of some Philly sailed right over my head onto Waveland Avenue.
Before the fifth inning was over, the Phillies had hit two homers. By the end of the inning the score was tied 10-10.
But that was only the beginning of troubles. The final score was 16-13. The Cubs lost. And in the last two innings a thunderstorm blew in from Lake Michigan. The sky turned incredibly darkso dark they had to turn on the lights. Lightning was hitting the buildings all around Wrigley field. And at the very moment the game ended, it began to rain so hard that by the time we got to our car, we could not have been more wet if we had actually gone for a swim in lake Michigan.
We were too wet to turn on the air conditioner, and the windows were steaming up from the humidity. It was miserable. We were soaking wet. The traffic was terrible. The kids smelled likewell, wet kids. We were facing a ten-hour drive that evening to get to my sister's house in Missouri.
And my sunburn was already killing me.
Later that night, several hours into our long drive to Missouri, Darlene looked at me sweetly, and said, "You're right. This was an absolutely perfect day. Nothing could've spoiled it."
And then she whacked me on the knee, right where my sunburn was the worst.