That One Person
By, Billy Beasley
The last day of Passion 2012, held in Atlanta, the host Pastor, Lou Giglio talked about what one person could do. He spoke of how easy it is to sit back and say, "God will do it with or without me." It brought me back to the crossroads moment in my life many years ago.
It was late afternoon in early March, 1976. I was standing outside the fence of the Little League Baseball field that I played on as a youth, watching my old coach, Ed Wilson, conduct practice. I had also spent one summer as one of his assistant coaches when I was only fifteen years old.
The day had been quite warm and I was clothed in shorts and a tee shirt. As the sun sank lower I got cold and started to leave many times but I clung to that fence, observing Coach conduct tryouts for a new group of kids.
Why was I even there? I went with no purpose in mind. This was during the days when kids actually had to try out for a team. The coaches drafted players and the practice time and place for each team was printed in the newspaper. Ironically, I had noticed this and for some odd reason I drove to the field that day.
I was nineteen and I had chosen about every wrong path possible. I was not in school and I was not working. I had a criminal record already for marijuana distribution. Coach knew this because he visited me when I was waiting for trial. That was how it was with him. You played ball for him but you remained one of his kids forever. He noticed me and had walked over a couple of times and spoken. The practice was nearing the end and he walked over one last time. This voice inside of me mustered up enough courage to humbly ask, "Do you need any help Coach?" Coach was probably 60 years of age at the time. Picture him with a white military hair cut standing in front of a lost young man with hair past his shoulders and a criminal record.
He had a gruff no nonsense manner of speaking. "You want to help me? Be at the school tomorrow at four o'clock." He turned and abruptly walked away. He didn’t wait for my reply. In the time that followed I am certain that he heard questions about his decision to allow me to help with the kids from the Optimist dignitaries who ruled with an iron fist and often a narrowness of mind. I never heard any of it. I was one of his kids and I believe that was all that mattered to him. That was my crossroads moment and now over forty years later that afternoon has only grown in importance to my life. I did not immediately turn from the party lifestyle I was heavily immersed in but I loved sports and being around those kids. Coach took a chance on me and I discovered the following day when I arrived at practice that he already had a full coaching staff. He didn’t need me as much as he thought one of his boys might just need him.
Several months later, I had a Damascus Road encounter that altered my life forever. I believe Coach was part of the plan that softened me up for that that night.
Coach passed away in January of 2016 at the age of ninety-eight. I visited him two days before he died in the assisted living facility where he stayed. It was the only visit of many in the past few years that he could not carry on a conversation. He seemed as if he could not get warm. I pulled the covers up higher on him, tucking him in. He thanked me. He tried to apologize for not being able to talk and I told him it was okay. He closed his eyes and I did something I am rarely bold enough to do. I began to pray out loud over him. I quoted Psalm 23 to the best of my recollection.
One week later at his funeral I was to speak the closing prayer at graveside. Psalm 23 was my instruction from his son, Bob, who organized the funeral. He did not know that I had prayed that same prayer over his dad the previous week.
I also spoke at the funeral service. I can’t recall all I said but I do remember vividly the last thing I spoke.
I was saved by Jesus Christ, but only after I was rescued off the scrap heap of this life by Ed Wilson.
I believe that to be accurate. My wife, Julie, accompanied me to visit Coach when we were first married. One day, as I was trying to get my new wife to understand the importance of this man in my life, I said, “There is none of this good life I enjoy with you now if not for Coach.” She nodded with new found understanding.
So it is easy for you and I to say, “God, I am only one person.” Maybe you even add like I often do when being stretched. “And God I am not qualified for what you ask of me.”
But I am living proof of what one person can do. Thank you, Coach.
Meet the Author
Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke. They are active members of Lifepoint Church in Wilmington, NC.
Billy is the author of The River Hideaway- a traditionally published work of faith based fiction. He shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in this novel. Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’.
You can find Billy's Sunday Inspiration column on the 2nd Sunday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.