Once upon a time I played softball. In fact, it was remarkable how softly I played. People used to travel from all over my household to watch me play. When I slid I stirred up enough dust to cover Oklahoma (state motto – “Why are we so dusty?”) and that was just getting out of the car. My fans under the stands would scream and yell my name every time I headed for the outfield. They usually stopped screaming when I turned around and went back to the dugout to get my pants and glove.

My nickname was almost “The Babe.” That would have been an insult to Babe Ruth so I was “The Boob.” Out of all the names they called me it is the only one printable, and that was from my children. When it was my turn to bat and I  actually made contact, the ball  sometimes said something cute like “What was that? I thought I felt something.” I hit so many ground balls that as soon as I stepped up to the plate worms  hid their young. However, there was one game where I was legitimately cheered. I was the eighth player and I kept us from forfeiting. It felt great to be needed.

The premiere episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” centered around Opie’s first meeting with Aunt Bea. Rose had been taking care of Opie but she got married and moved away. Enter Aunt Bea. It didn’t take long for Opie to realize that Aunt Bea was not like Rose. She couldn’t do anything as well as Rose. She tried real hard, even trying to swing a baseball bat like Rose. She couldn’t. She held it with the wrong end.

Well, things just didn’t work out and Aunt Bea decided she better move on. She and Andy were outside at the car saying goodbye, unaware that Opie was watching and listening from his upstairs window. Finally, he could not stand it any longer. He ran downstairs, out the door, and yelled for Aunt Bea not to leave. Andy was caught completely off guard and asked Opie what changed his mind.  Opie responded, “Well, if she goes what will happen to her? She doesn’t know how to do anything – play baseball, catch fish, or hunt frogs! She’ll be helpless! So that’s why she’s gotta stay, so I can teach ‘em to her!” Opie then hugged Aunt Bea and said, “You need me!”

On the road to Damascus Paul was blinded by a light and met Jesus. In chapter 12 of his first letter to the church at Corinth he wrote that the church is like a body, all the parts dependent upon each other. Verse 14 says “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (ESV) He further explains that the body could not function properly if any part was not doing its job and no part is more important than the other.

On the road to Mayberry I was blinded by a light, but mine was in the form of a six-year old boy.  Sometimes light shines where we least expect it. I didn’t meet Jesus but I was reminded of a theology of need. You see, not everyone in the church can play baseball, catch fish, or hunt frogs, but we can learn from each other. We are all part of the same body – and we need each other with our different gifts. That is the Gospel according to Paul . . . and Opie.

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