Never Off The Map

If you’re reading this thinking the name “Ted Williams” only refers to the last professional baseball player to hit .400 in a season, you may as well stop reading right now. In fact, by the time I’m finished writing this, there will probably have been 1,674,522,749 blog entries posted concerning the “Golden Voice” who seems to have gone from panhandler to celebrity in a matter of seconds.

Here’s the quick rundown, if you’re not familiar with the story of Ted Williams. Former radio announcer gets into drugs and alcohol, loses everything, winds up homeless and living in a tent in Ohio, has a video made of him showing off his “God-given gift of voice” while panhandling next to the highway, winds up all over the Internet, and suddenly has job offers from every suitor under the sun and is re-united with his mother after nearly 20 years.

There hasn’t been much that hasn’t been said or written about this story by now. Aside from Williams’ spotty past arrest record, there’s virtually no uncomfortable angle to it at all. It’s got redemption. It’s got family reunions. It’s got recovery from addiction. It’s got a homeless person getting off the street. All we need now is Will Smith and a screenplay.

It’s an amazing world we live in today, where a hand-held video camera and an Internet connection can literally change a man’s life. As incredible as the story of Ted Williams is, though, it’s one that actually is played out again and again, day after day.

Without going into too much detail, I feel like I dropped off the map a little over three years ago. I’m certainly not homeless; I have a wonderful family; and all of my needs are met. From a standpoint of life, though, something I don’t quite understand happened, and nothing’s been the same since then. The dreams I thought I had didn’t turn out to be so great, and the ones I expected to rise up and replace them haven’t really materialized like I thought they would.

In the same way Ted Williams suddenly found himself on the side of a highway, I suddenly was lost, watching people and cars and traffic and dreams and life fly past. My talents seem meager, undefinable, and not something someone would readily want. Still, I hang the sign around my neck every day, take my post by the highway, and hope that someone will pass by and express some interest in them.

See, what Ted Williams showed me this week more than anything is that even when you think you have completely fallen off of the map, where no one could ever possibly reach you, God still knows you’re there. It defies all logic. There’s no way some video posted on a Web site should be able to resurrect a man’s life … but it did. And there’s no way God or anyone else could possibly know where I am as I flounder away every day … but He does.

I’m going to keep this brief, mainly because most of it’s already been said somewhere else. Thank you, Ted Williams, for reminding me there’s always hope.

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