What’s the Catch? Thought on the Death of My Father

Guest ColumnistCommunity News

By Paul Bradford

I’m a baseball lover, but this is not about baseball.

I’m a guy, but this is not necessarily about guys.

It’s about fathers, and my father who died three weeks ago. It’s about my yearning for him, and a yearning for God.

It was remarkably ironic that I learned about my dad’s passing while standing in the Hallmark isle inside Long’s Drug store. I was shopping for his birthday card when my cell phone rang, with my brother on the other end, gulping for composure while trying to tell me that dad didn’t wake up that morning. I put the card back in the shelf, and walked through the sliding doors, into the rest of my day, and in an odd way, into the rest of my life. My dad was not a believer.

I spent the balance of the day numbed, and woke up the next morning knowing that I needed a good cry…there, I said it, I’m a guy who needed a good cry. So, like any baseball loving, father longing, American male, I went and rented Field of Dreams. My dad loved baseball, and it was one way, my way, of honoring my dad and reconnecting with his memory.

Field of Dreams is the highly fictional story of Ray Kinsella, an Iowa corn farmer played by Kevin Costner. Kinsella, after hearing voices in his corn field (“…if you build it, he will come..”) goes on faith and plows under his crops to build a baseball field – – hoping and longing that whoever the “he” is will show up and reward his leap of faith.

At the end of the movie, Ray’s father (long since passed away) mythically shows up on the field to be reunited with his son. After the shock of seeing his dad, Costner picks up his glove and ball, turns to the man he longs to be restored too, and says “…Dad, do you wanna have a catch?”

“Dad, do you wanna have a catch?” That’s the line that moves most men to tears. That’s the line that moved me to tears, knowing that I’ll never have another catch with my dad.

Yes, I said this article is not about baseball…it’s really about Jesus.

I began to think about the strength and power of my yearning, and all of our yearnings, to connect (read that “have a catch”) with our earthly fathers…the same men who are fallible, sinful, and broken. The same men who made mistakes, just like I continue to do, the same men that Jesus loved dearly…the same men for whom He died.

Then the grand convicting irony hit me…if I have such a visceral desire to connect (again, read that “have a catch”) with this man I called dad, shouldn’t I have the same degree of zeal to connect with Jesus?   Shouldn’t I be equally moved to say “Daddy, Abba, Father, wanna have a catch?”

The rhetorical answer, of course, is yes. The plain-spoken answer is always more complicated. I don’t know what the theological equivalent of “the catch” is, all I know is that I need to want to have one with Jesus.

Sure, I do homegroup, I read and pray daily, and I worship with you on Sundays. But I also long to discover that thing, that “catch,” that I can have with Jesus. That thing that connects me and satisfies my longing to be in the company of Him…that thing where His mere presence proves meaningful and instructional without having to say a word.

A literal “catch” with Jesus is not in the cards. Yet I can look for his presence in the mundane, in the everyday, and in the interruptions of life. And I guess that’s the point of this musing…recognizing and kneeling before God, reveling in the gift of each day, and yearning for the “attaboy…well done my good and faithful servant.”

And Jesus, this Jesus I profess, stands in the backyard of my life, waiting for me, waiting for us, to say “Daddy, Abba, Father, wanna have a catch?”

Go and have your “catch” with Jesus, and encourage me to do the same.