Giving It Away

Some 25 years ago, I worked at Fenway Park. But not on the inside. I worked in the parking garage behind the Green Monster, the famous big green wall in left field. So, my first day, I got a red shirt with staff on the back, and I decided I’d go into the ballpark. I thought, maybe I could see some of the game, or maybe get some free food, or maybe get into a dugout and meet a player. So as I was walking through the doorway, I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and there was a security guard. He had a mean look on his face and he pointed outside to the parking garage. So, I turned and showed him the big word staff written on my back. He just shook his head.

So, with my head and shoulders slumped over, I went back to the parking garage, and started getting the cars parked. And as I was doing that, I suddenly heard a loud bang that made me jump. I turned around and there was a baseball bouncing around the parking deck. It had come over the wall! So, I ran after it, and when I got it I held it in my hand, I felt like the greatest treasure I could have. In fact, a homerun ball over the green monster is the biggest treasure you can get at Fenway Park.

So, the games went on and I got more and more baseballs, until one day, the Home Run King, Mark Mcwire, came to town. That’s the guy who set the home run record while he played. Well, he set another record that weekend, and while I was with a customer, I heard the bang on the ground. I made chase, and found the ball under a car, in a little puddle. I reached out and held in my hand a record-setting homerun baseball by the Home Run King. Hardly before I could take it all in, a newspaper journalist approached me with some questions, and the next day, there was a whole article in the newspaper about me and the Home Run King. I still have that baseball today.

Do you know why I ended up with that ball, why I think God made that arrangement? It was because I had no baseballs. I had given them all away.

A little boy comes out of the car with crutches, and I take out a homerun baseball and say, would you like one of these. And of course, he says Wow! The senior with his walker surrounded by family members, maybe on his way to the last game he’ll ever make with his family. I take out a homerun ball, how about this? Wow! Or the young girl in the wheelchair being pushed by her mother, I think, this will make her day. Another baseball, another Wow!

And during that I saw that all the people I gave the baseballs to, they had the same joy and excitement that I had when I got the ball myself. And I realized.

The only thing better than getting a treasure, is giving it away.

That is the peace that Jesus talks about giving his disciples. Up to his death and resurrection, the disciples had been receiving, and receiving a lot. Now, when he rises into heaven, it’s going to be their turn to give it away. That’s where the peace of Jesus arrives.

Well, later in life I was entering into adult success, and I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was God. He communicated to me, in some mysterious way, something like this: Jerome, I am looking for someone to be outside the ballpark in life. That is where my homerun baseballs land. I am looking for someone that will notice them, that will get them, and then lift other people up with them.

I am looking for someone who knows that the only thing better than getting a treasure, is giving it away.

I have spent the time since in places outside the ballpark of life. In hospitals, orphanages, prisons, nursing homes, on the streets, in Ecuador in some of the simplest and poorest communities. I get to lift up children without a home, seniors in the their last days, sick people without hope, villages and communities on the brink of ending from natural disasters and suicides. I get to see it all come back to life, all because that is where God’s homerun baseballs land. You have to love to get a treasure, and then know the one thing better than that.

Giving it away.

That is the peace of Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” (Jn 14:27)

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