“Hi, this is Chad, is Ryan there?”
“Yeah, just a minute please.”
After a halfway short conversation, Ryan Lang was convinced to jog over to Chad’s house a couple hundred yards down the road. Chad was the Reeves’ second son in a family of five. He just finished the first marking period of tenth grade, and was rather pleased at how high school was going. Although Ryan was yet a ninth grader, the two had been good friends for years. One strong bond between them was soccer. When they were old enough to play in the city’s AYSO league, soccer became an everyday event. When a practice or a game was not going on, the best friends were always in the back yard with a ball.
Now breathing hard, Ryan turned into the driveway of Chad’s house. Three minutes later, the black and white ball bounced from foot to foot. With each pass of the ball, the cleats, or rather the feet inside them, gained skill and experience. Their mouths drying out, a quick stop in the house refreshed them with a drink of cold apple cider and a doughnut. Returning outside to the fresh wind of the autumn day, piles of crisp leaves built up as rakes flew across the lawn.
The friends had a lot of fun with each other, and a winter passed without much notice. Coming home from work that summer, soccer once again prevailed as the number one thing to do. Now two high school students, the long time friends joined the school team. Struggling together through conditioning, Chad and Ryan developed their teamwork, and soon became high school level players. Chad’s license helped the pair to and from practices, and the much anticipated first game made the days go quite slowly. Three rows on the calendar later, Chad found himself in warm-up. Stretching out, passing, shooting, and drilling in pre-game warm-up was a familiar moment. He loved the feel of it, and now Ryan was the figure his passes were aimed at.
Only after a hard workout did the team put a one on the scoreboard. Ryan’s practiced pass let Chad score the first of the season.
Entering the game once more with high hopes, Chad smiled at Ryan, as if he knew the game would turn out with similar results. The referee’s whistle was as sharp as a train’s, and the ball began moving. With 10:15 left in the 40 minute half, Ryan received the ball. What a chance! Chad sprinted down the field, but was surprised at the disturbing peacefulness. Expecting a pass, Chad turned to see his best friend on the ground. Suspecting severe heart problems, a helicopter was called to the scene. Ryan’s conditioned worsened and now his life became a concern. Chad’s fast car brought him to the hospital. Once he got there, he wished he hadn’t.
Chad cried… cried hard that rainy Saturday afternoon as he walked past the casket. He wasn’t too old to cry, Ryan died! The short speech at the funeral service was on Romans “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
In bed that night Chad kept trying to find a comfortable position, and his mind kept white-water rafting through the past day’s events. Why did that have to happen so suddenly? And why to Ryan? Why would God take my best friend? Chad’s thoughts questioned himself. After a night of twisting and turning, and very little sleep, Chad’s good nose guided his half awake body to the breakfast table. Hungry, Chad’s stomach was filled, but his mind needed an answer.
The questions of the previous night, Chad challenged his parents too. Answering immediately, Mrs. Reeves related the pastor’s speech of the night before, to another day in Chad’s elementary years when he questioned why a difficult thing had to happen. His mother sympathetically reminded Chad of the time they had raised ducks. Quick to become parents, the Reeves’ had adopted nine, rather large, white spheres. After hatching, the ducklings followed the children around as if they were their parents. Mrs. Reeves sipped a cup of nearly boiling coffee as more thoughts were recalled. “Remember when the duck fell down the drain pipe?” Oh yes, Chad remembered vividly how the poor duckling was stuck at the bottom. Since the pipe was clogged, they had to dump water on him to fill the pipe making the screeching little creature come to the top. His mind wandered farther on to when a fox ate five, and only two were left. That was a hard event to overcome, but when the remaining two had to say good-bye…Chad smiled to himself as he remembered how his little first grade body let the tears wash his dust stained cheeks. His mother’s words jerked him back to the present discussion. “The ducks were wild and we had to let them go! Do you see how this all fits in with what happened a few days ago? The duck didn’t like the water poured on him in the drain pipe, but that brought him to the top and saved his life! We didn’t want to let the ducks go either, but that was best for them. God always has it in His plan that whatever He makes happen, is for our good. Ryan’s death obviously doesn’t seem very nice for us, but is was in God’s will, and that’s best.”
For the next few days Chad wrestled with what his mother had said. He would definitely remember that week of September 7 for the rest of his life. Getting to sleep became easier night by night because each night Chad recited in his mind, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” ❖