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Called Into Battle

May 31, 2010

reflections on Memorial Day

Earlier this month the public radio music program, Cypress Avenue, introduced me to the music of Sam Baker. The word pictures of “Baseball” are simple yet poignant:

There are soldiers, they’re in the way of harm; A girl holds a baby in a blanket it her arms; A man with a flag, he leaves for work; A woman pulls a thread from the hem of her skirt…

But it is Sam’s story that cleaves to my memory. His musical career didn’t take off until he was in his 50s. It followed a college education at North Texas University, a short stint as a bank examiner, odd jobs as a carpenter and a white-water boatman, and a restless spirit that led him to Peru where, in 1986, he found himself “in the middle of somebody else’s war.” A terrorist bomb blew up the train he was riding on as well as his left hand. He had to completely relearn to play the guitar,  his mangled fingers just barely able to grasp a pick. Sam also suffered brain damage that makes it difficult to find words. Ironic that he now makes his living writing and performing original music.

Hardships and handicaps are an essential part of redeeming your purpose, even when they look nothing like the aftermath of a terrorist bombing. We’re all called into battle, and sometimes it’s disguised as play. I took on a full-time task of directing our church’s music program while holding a full-time executive level job at a national nonprofit. Both entities prospered. When the lead guitar player quit the band, I was forced into the spotlight despite lack of talent. I was well past 40 and fell on my face regularly, but survived the embarrassment intact. Then one day I looked in the mirror and realized, Damn! I can make that sucker cry and sing!

What is your handicap? Is it a work-ethic that drains whatever energy you might devote to your life’s purpose? Find a volunteer opportunity and put that ethic to work in an area of passion. Is it an inner critic that claims you have no art to share with the world? Persist in finding a creative outlet, permit yourself to make mistakes, and prove the critic wrong.

Another Saturday comes and goes; It’s another south wind that comes and blows; Another baseball field And another popfly; Another bunch of boys And another blue sky. Boys laugh, boys play.

Boys laugh, boys play.

Don’t let another Saturday just come and go. Heed the call. Get out there and play. The world needs you to redeem your purpose.

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