Jacob could not have been happier with his life. He and his wife of 10 years had finally welcomed their first child, Sam, into the family.
His walk to the hospital’s exit took him past the chapel where he overheard the hymn, “Blessed Assurance” softly playing over the sound system. It was familiar, one that he had sung many times as a boy growing up in his father’s church in rural Indiana.
Jacob joined in on the chorus and carried it with him as he left the lobby and entered the parking garage. Softly singing under his breath, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long.”
Although they didn’t have anymore children, Jacob knew he was blessed. Sam filled his life with joy each and every day. Despite his work schedule, he was able to spend lots of time with Sam, coaching his baseball team in the summer and his basketball team in the winter.
They camped and fished and vacationed all over the country. They were active in their small church and Sam’s confirmation was a true celebration for the family.
And then the accident happened and their lives were forever changed. The baseball season was coming to a close and Sam was having a great year. It was the first year that Sam’s age group could steal bases and Sam was leading the team, stealing base after base.
It was the top of the first inning and Sam, after earning a base on balls, had stolen second base on the first pitch to the next batter. On the second pitch, Sam bolted toward third base.
The batter saw a perfect pitch to hit and swung. The batter connected and hammered a line drive that may have ended up a triple, IF it had not found Sam. As was often the case, when Sam took off on his steal attempt, his batting helmet popped off his head and it fell to the ground.
When Sam heard the bat hit the ball he turned to look toward the sound. The batted ball struck Sam square in the middle of the forehead. Sam dropped to the ground and lay motionless.
He was hospitalized and as he lay in a coma, Jacob found his way to the hospital chapel and began to pray. He was oblivious to the taped music that was playing until he heard the words, “watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in his love,” from that old familiar hymn, “Blessed Assurance.”
Jacob suddenly knew that Sam was going to live and he headed back to Sam’s room to rejoin his wife.
Sam did live but his head injury would result in permanent damage. Sam would need constant care. The weeks became months and the months became years. Jacob’s wife could not bear the strain of Sam’s injury and care and left the family. Sam would never be able to function beyond the capacity of a young teen.
He returned to school and physical activity, but would never be able to make decisions on his own of anything of importance. Sam found ways to get into trouble as he was easily influenced by others around him and often was left taking the blame for a prank.
It became routine for Jacob to be called by the school administration and informed about the latest incident.
One night Sam was pressured into driving the get-away car for a friend of his who was intending to rob a convenience store. Sam didn’t have a license but he had driven a tractor with his Jacob on a relative’s farm. When Sam’s friend came out of the store, shouting to get going, Sam panicked and slammed his foot on the accelerator, accidentally running over the friend.
Sam pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years at a minimum security prison.
Jacob quit his job and took an apartment near the prison. He took a full-time job as a night custodian at a local high school so that he could spend his days working on an appeal of Sam’s conviction and visiting Sam in the prison.
With good behavior, Sam was released 42 months into his sentence, and when he walked out of the prison, Jacob was there waiting for him.
They decided to stay in the apartment that Jacob had rented and together they joined a local congregation. Within a year Sam had become friends with enough folks in the church that he was able to find employment doing odd jobs.
Together with the members of the congregation, Jacob was able to provide enough structure for Sam’s life that he was able to stay out of trouble. With the help or a retired teacher who was a member of the church, Sam managed to get his GED. He became the unofficial greeter at the front door of the church every Sunday morning.
The minister of the church got to know Jacob and Sam quite well. He admired Jacob for his commitment to Sam. He also discovered that Sam had a wonderful singing voice.
One Sunday in May, the minister pulled Sam aside and asked him if maybe there was a song that he would like to sing during the worship service on Father’s Day. Sam beamed at the request and said that he knew the perfect song.
In the middle of the worship service on Father’s Day Sunday, the minister announced that there was a surprise. He then invited Sam to come forward. Tears filled Jacob’s eyes as he listened and watched Sam sing, “Blessed Assurance!”
Happy Father’s Day!