The Choices You Make Determine Your Character

You build relationships and show God's love with your actions through. Change requires that we may have to give up our way for something better.

The Shaya Story

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shaya, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shaya, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:

Shaya and I had walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shaya on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shaya struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shaya put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shaya was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shaya bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shaya didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shaya's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shaya swung clumsily and missed.

One of Shaya’s teammate came up and together they held the bat facing the pitcher.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shaya.

As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shaya would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shaya, run to first! Run to first!'

Never in his life had Shaya ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second Shaya, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shaya awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shaya rounded towards second base, the right fielder, the smallest guy on their team who now had his chance to be the hero for his team, could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag. But he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the second-baseman's head.

Shaya made it to second. With the ball way over the second-baseman’s head. The opposing shortstop ran to Shaya to help him and turned him in the direction of third base.

All were screaming, 'Run to third Shaya, Run to third.'

Shaya ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams followed him down the baseline, and all the spectators were on their feet screaming, 'Shaya, run home! Run home!'

Shaya ran to home, stepped on the plate and won the game for his team. Both teams hoisted Shaya up on their shoulders, and cheered him as the hero the game who hit the grand slam.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and healing.