Devon Still and Lauren Hill met today. They’re both athletes—he is on the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals and she plays basketball for Mt. Saint Joseph University, also in Cincinnati. Okay, actually Lauren hopes to play for the Lady Lions. She’s a freshman and their basketball season hasn’t started yet. It’s not so much that she has freshmen jitters or is anxious about playing time—she has an inoperable brain tumor and has been given weeks to live. Her goal is to play in just one game before she dies. The NCAA gave permission for Mt. Saint Joseph’s opening game to be moved up from November 15th to the 2nd to accommodate Hill’s desire.
You have possibly heard of Devon Still. He made the news at the start of the football season when he was told that he didn’t make the Bengals football team. This happens to hundreds of football players every year but what made Hill’s story special is that he has a four-year old daughter, Leah, with stage 4 cancer. Although he didn’t make the team, the Bengals offered him a place on their practice squad which meant medical benefits to help pay for Leah’s treatments.
I suppose it was only right that the two of them met today and exchanged jerseys—and a lot more. Two people brought together by one disease. Two people who are doing their best to just make it through the day and support others along the way. They don’t have time or energy to do anything other than that.
I believe when Jesus taught His followers to pray “Our Father,” this is exactly the kind of thing He was after. While the word “Father” connects us with God, the word “Our” connects us with the world because God is the Father of everyone (Ephesians 4:6). He is telling us to come to God in prayer as part of the world He loves (and we should love). I’m nowhere suggesting that God’s love ignores or disregards the obvious shortcomings or failures we all have, but like a father (or mother) He loves us even more than we love our sin. And He calls us to love in the same way.
Balance this little piece out any way that you feel the need to, but don’t miss the message that we often make relationships a lot more difficult than they need to be. Like Devon Still and Lauren Hill, we’re all on a journey together through this thing called life. If we could somehow learn to love people where they are, I think we’d be saltier and brighter. I know this, we’d be a lot more like Jesus.
That’s enough for us, isn’t it?