The school’s name flashed across my caller ID, and my heart dropped.
I was hoping for the normal call like, “Your daughter spilled a glass of milk on her pants and wants you to bring clean clothes for her.” Or, “Mom, I forgot my lunch, can you bring it?”
But, this time it was THAT call. It was the siren that set the rest of our day into a tornado.
“You son broke his wrist. Do you want us to take him to the hospital, or do you want to?” the straight-to-the point voice said on the other end.
I sprinted out of my basement office, put the dog out, grabbed my purse and was at the school less than two minutes later. (We live close.)
Inside the school office, I saw my high school son sweaty from weight-lifting with a plastic air cast on his outstretched arm. The cast was a great invention because it prevented me from passing out by seeing my son’s deformed and broken wrist.
About four staff people were attending to him. He was in pain, and my presence made it worse.
I wasn’t even sure what happened yet, but I could tell I needed to get him to the doctor fast. The staff made a make-shift wheelchair with a rolling office chair, and we wheeled him to my car and headed to the doctor’s office with the school nurse by our side.
The rest of the day consisted of X-rays, pain medication and a trip to a surgery center 35 miles away to have his wrist bones put back into place.
We put together the story of what happened as my son shared throughout the day. He lost his balance doing a power clean (a weight-lifting move where you bring the bar up to your chest in a standing position). He fell and the bar and weights landed on his wrist, fracturing his radius bone.
In an instant, the course of his life was changed. (Thankfully, just temporarily.)
A full summer of rising before daylight to lift weights, running bleachers in the evenings and cutting our vacation short to go to football camp, seemed at the moment that it was all for nothing. It was over with the snap of a wrist.
No Friday night lights. No watching him make tackles on a crisp, autumn night. And, no football scrapbook pages for his sophomore year.
A few days after the injury, the shock and pain medication started to wear off for my son and reality set it. He missed his football “tribe” and all the camaraderie that goes along with that.
But, as we tried to make sense of what happened, we had to step out of our worldly view and focus on eternity.
“Consider it a joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” the author James states in the Bible.
It’s a common story for athletes to get injured just before the big game or just as they were about to earn a scholarship. They miss their senior season. They miss the Olympics. It happens to non-athletes, too. We work hard and pursue our dreams, but sometimes someone else gets the job or the promotion or the raise.
But again, these things are all of the world.
There is one thing that cannot be taken away by injury or sickness or someone else. And, that’s our eternal goal of meeting God in Heaven. The peace and comfort of knowing our God and living by his rules are ours forever if we choose them.
As my son works through his physical suffering, he can remember the suffering the Jesus went through for us. And, while he will continue to train for future athletic goals, I hope he always keeps his eyes on the eternal goal that can never be taken away.