By Deacon Gregory M. Kirk
St. Joseph Catholic Church
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
This past July, I spent two days in Findlay, Ohio, watching our Galion Varsity and Junior Varsity Boys Basketball teams scrimmage other teams from all over Northern Ohio. I will always remember the experience of watching two Junior Varsity teams from out of our area scrimmage one another, while waiting for the Galion game that was scheduled next.
I was struck by the winning personality, competitive drive, and team-playing spirit of a young man playing point guard for the team wearing red. He appeared to be about fifteen years old, and he had an “all American” look – he reminded me of a model for Hollister or American Eagle. He was a true leader, talented on offense, and defense, and always willing to pass the ball to a team member who had a better shot. I was deeply impressed but couldn’t help but notice that the young man ran with an uneven, clumsy gait. It didn’t slow him down though, and he seemed to be all over the gym floor.
As I watched this young man play, I was struck by the appearance of his right leg for two reasons: His right leg was thinner than his left leg, and the thin right leg was covered with tribal tattoos. I was struck by the irony that this “preppy” looking young man’s leg was literally covered with tattoos to the point that one couldn’t see flesh. I wondered to myself if he lived with a birth defect that had affected his leg development. The tattoos seemed inconsistent with the young man’s appearance. A few minutes later I noticed the shape of a large round ball at the base of the leg, showing through a white sock where an ankle should have been, and then I understood. A few tears found their way down my face when the realization hit me – the young man was running, jumping, and “winning,” while wearing an artificial leg.
The game ended, and I didn’t see this young man for the rest of the day, but I prayed for the opportunity to meet and speak with him. At the end of that hot July day, I looked over my shoulder as I was loading a cooler of water back into the van, and the young man was standing beside me, smiling. We shook hands, I introduced myself, and I congratulated him on his skill, leadership, and selfless playing. He smiled, and said “thank you.” I asked him if he would mind sharing what happened to his leg. He responded, “lawn mowing accident when I was two years old.” I told him I was a minister, and that he would surely appear in one of my sermons some day. I asked him if he had a message to go with his story. He smiled again, and replied, “believe and trust in God, it’s all in your mind.” His name is Dustin Rieman, and unless I am mistaken, we will hear of him again. In the meantime, whenever I encounter the words of Jesus about God making the impossible, possible, I will think of Dustin Rieman, and smile.
No life event, situation, hardship, person or people arrayed against us will ever prevail, if we believe, with God, “all things are possible.” The possible begins with our thinking, it starts in our mind, and eventually blossoms with God’s love and power into reality. We were created in the image and likeness of a loving God who wants us to succeed, and live victoriously. When we strive to put God first in our lives, when we treat others with courtesy and respect, when Jesus is our model for daily living—great things happen, and “all things are possible.” Please don’t just take my word for it—a young man named Dustin Rieman is living proof. Seeing is believing—and believing means winning. God bless you, and your families as you surrender to His Power, and live out His vision for you.