Day 66-14 – Giving it your best shot!

Thanks so much for praying for Justus and his cold. There is a reason they call it the common cold… it’s common to everyone. No one old enough to read this has likely escaped the irritation of having a cold. Thankfully it rarely represents more than exactly that – an irritation. The exceptions of course are in those whose immune systems or bodily strength have been compromised for some reason. For example cancer patients in the middle of chemotherapy are at risk if they get sick because their body’s ability to fight the disease, however small, is questionable. Which is certainly a little of why Jason and Alyse are concerned about Justus’ cold. But truthfully, they see how strong Justus has been throughout this battle. Even as his brain was being attacked by something, the rest of his body was able to ward off any illness for the first 65 days – no temperature, no infection, nothing.

The bigger issue, other than the natural desire for their son to not be uncomfortable, has to do with his ability to be as effective in his rehab. When I thought about that, it reminded me of PLU’s legendary former football coach, the late Frosty Westering. On a little side note, I want to give a shout out to the PLU football program. Frosty’s son Scott is now the head coach, and has continued the commitment of running a football program interested in more than just winning football games. This year’s team has sent a huge poster signed by all the players as well as a pack of cards handwritten by a team of football players. I don’t know what kind of success each individual is having on the field, but I can tell you, they are being set up to be highly successful in life. Thank-you EMAL!

I apologize for the way my brain thinks about these things; I can’t help myself. The issue, you see, is we all want Justus to get better as quickly as possible. So during this intense season of in-patient rehabilitation we want him to be at his very best. I remember listening to Frosty give a talk once about being at your best. Being a football coach, of course his illustration was in the context of athletics, but it is applicable to life. If you happen to be a Frosty disciple, please forgive me for any inaccuracies in my memory… after all I heard this talk once over 20 years ago.

When one thinks of being an athlete, they often think in terms of being the best. Frosty talked about how we might even encourage our athletes or our kids to be the best. The problem is, sometimes you can’t be the best, no matter how hard you try. In athletics that is so true. Sometimes there is someone bigger, faster, stronger, or the good Lord just gave them more coordination than you. You can work really hard and improve, but there are some differences even hard work can’t overcome. I had the opportunity to coach two football players that were over 6’6” tall. They both ended up playing in the NFL. As we sometimes joke in coaching,, you can’t coach a kid to be 6’6”… he either is or he isn’t.

Frosty went on… if you can’t always be the best, then we will next turn to encouraging our athletes or our kids to do your best. After all, if you aren’t 6’6”, the be the best you can be with what you have, in other words, do your best. Unfortunately, Frosty reminded us, you can’t always do your best. In athletics, sometimes you’re injured or like Justus, you’re sick; it’s hard to do your best when you don’t feel well. Which I believe is the biggest concern those of us who love Justus have, that he’s not able to be at his best in rehab.

But my favorite part of Frosty’s talk was where he finished, because I think it exemplifies Justus, and it’s motivation for you and me. So you can’t always be the best… you can’t always do your best… but you can always give it your best shot. Regardless of your natural God given ability, or your current condition (for Justus not just the cold, but the very fact he has a whole cut in the side of his head), the one thing you have control over is your ability to give it your best shot. It’s what has impressed me so much about our little ninja. He knows how to cry and whine and complain… instead he just keeps working at what he’s asked to do. Even with a cold, he continues to work hard and show improvement.

Which of course is the lesson for you and me. I’m not the smartest, or the most gifted… I don’t always feel great because of illness or lack of sleep from being with people… but am I choosing each day to give it my best shot. To take what talents God has given me and use them to the best of my abilities and condition today! Or am I instead focusing on the gifts I don’t have, or the opportunities that someone else was afforded, or am I feeling sorry for myself because I’m sick or overwhelmed with the busyness of life.

And please hear me, especially if you are really sick. I don’t pretend to understand how hard it is to give it your best shot going through whatever it is you are going through. I’m sure, given the same circumstances, I would be the loudest complainer of all. My point is, given the options, I want to be the type of person that regardless of what life throws at me, I give it my best shot. My prayer for you and for me (and for Justus) is that we would all do exactly that. So thanks for praying that he would get over his cold quickly. Would you please add to that prayer a prayer that in the midst of his cold, he would continue to give it his best shot.