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A good reason to miss opening day

Daniel Murphy, New York Mets 2nd baseman, and his wife, Tori, pose for a portrait during her pregnancy (Credit: Tori Ahern-Murphy via Facebook)Daniel Murphy is a second baseman for the New York Mets baseball team.   He was drafted by the Mets in 2006 after playing college ball for the University of Jacksonville.  After a relatively short stint in the minors, he made his major league debut in 2008.  Since then, except for an injury-shortend 2011, he has been the Mets' every day second baseman.  Earlier this week, Daniel Murphy stirred the sports radio world into a frenzy that has spilled over into the non-sports world.   

Late last Sunday evening, the day before opening day (a big deal to baseball fans), Daniel received word that his pregnant wife Tori's water had broken. He had a decision to make: be there for the birth of his first son, or play the opening day game. Although he didn't know it at the time, Daniel had made that decision long before he and his wife were blessed with their son.  In an interview about his faith he said, "I talked with people this off season who are fathers and mothers, and I envy that relationship that they have with their children because I don’t have that yet. When you sit down and talk to someone who is a parent and you describe what it is that God did by sending His son, you almost see this light bulb go off in their head. I envy that. I can’t wait until the day that I’m a father because I feel like, in that moment when I get to hold my son or daughter, I'll look up to the Lord and say, ‘Wow! I cannot believe what You did for us.' And I look forward to that day every day."

He left New York for Florida, arriving in time to see the birth of his son, Noah, at 12:02pm, about an hour before the first pitch of the Met's home opener.   Then, he took the next three days off, as allowed by the Major League Baseball, to be with his wife and newborn son.

The reaction across the city to his decision, unexpectedly for me at least, and maybe for Daniel Murphy too, was loud and critical for letting his team down.   Mike Francesca of WFAN, an all-sports radio station in New York: "...everybody wanted to be there [for the birth], which I completely understand, and I have no problem with being there.  I don't know why you need three days off.  I'm going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back...I don't get it."

Others were more supportive.  Mike Golic, on Mike and Mike radio/tv show on ESPN, said, "I have always said if someone is going to miss something for the birth of a child, there is no way that I can sit there and tell them that they're wrong."   

As I watched the Mike and Mike show, I thought, "this is a no-brainer, you be there."  "Children are a gift from the Lord;  they are a reward from him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.  How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!" (Psalm 127:3-5, NLT).  What is the value of being at work, compared to being there for the delivery of such a precious gift from God?

As I continued to watch, however, my pride was exposed when the hosts presented other scenarios where they thought the decision would not be quite as clear-cut.  Daniel Murphy missed two games, albeit one was opening day, of a 162 game schedule, but what if his wife had the baby during the World Series?  Or, stepping outside of baseball, what if it was Super Bowl Sunday or the Stanley Cup finals or the World Cup?

I found myself pausing to re-think my initial reaction.  Would I miss the World Cup or the Super Bowl, even as a spectator? I came to the same answer: skip the game, be there for the birth; but, it was a stark reminder for me that I cannot do what is right without God.  I must "trust in the Lord with all [my] heart, and... not lean on [my] own understanding.  In all [my] ways [I must] acknowledge him, and he will make straight [my] paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Daniel Murphy seems to have already learned this lesson, “My biggest thing is giving everything to the Lord right now, coming to Him with open hands and trusting that His paths for my life are better than anything I could ever script for myself.”

Can you say the same?

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