A conversation with the ultimate ref

December 05, 2010|By Leonard Pitts Jr

"So, is it true? Did you make Steve Johnson drop that ball?"

God glanced over at me. "What are you talking about?"

We had just taken our seats at the basketball game — on the floor right next to the visitor's bench; God has these amazing connections. "Didn't you hear?" I told him. "Last Sunday, Steve Johnson of the Buffalo Bills has this perfect touchdown pass fall right into his hands. Would've given his team an overtime victory. And he drops it."

God's brow furrowed. "So you're saying I knocked the ball out of his hands?"

"No," I said, "He's the one accusing you. After the game, he went on Twitter and wrote a tweet."

"He went on what and wrote a what?"

"A tweet. It's right here in the paper," I said, handing it to God. And God read the following: "I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO..."

God looked up. "Wow," he said. "He really loves exclamation points, doesn't he?"

"Yes," I said, "but — "

"And why all the capital letters? And what does 'this how you do me' mean? That's not correct. Are they still teaching grammar in the schools?"

"Sometimes I wonder," I said.

"And he 'tweeted' me? I am the sovereign author of creation. I do not tweet!"

"OK," I said, palms lifted, "but did you do it? Did you make him drop the ball?"

God regarded me for a moment. "Sure did," he said. "I hate the Bills. Besides, I had a bundle on the Steelers."

I was shocked. "Really?"

God's look hardened. "Oh," I said. "Joking. I get it."

God sighed. "I was talking to the devil the other day," He said. "He has the same problem, people always blaming him for stuff they do. Remember that old Flip Wilson routine, 'The Devil Made Me Do It'? Old Scratch always hated that bit. I don't blame him. You get tired of people putting their foul-ups off on you."

"I can imagine," I said.

"No you can't," said God. "That's the point. You people think that if you play nice, I'll protect you from all pain and give you the desires of your heart, and if that doesn't happen, then I've cheated you. But I'm not Santa Claus. I am the great I Am. My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways. You can't understand one another; you, Mr. Columnist, sometimes can't even understand yourself. So how do you figure you're going to understand me?"

He fell silent for a moment. The two teams were at midcourt. The ball was tossed up. The visitors got the tip. "We haven't got a prayer tonight," I said. "Our star player is out."

"Maybe not," said God. "But there's a reason they put the ball in play, isn't there? To see what happens. Because until then, you don't really know."

"And you never put a hand on the ball?"

"Suppose I do," said God. "I'm not saying I knocked that ball out of Steve Johnson's hands, but what if I did? He thinks it was to teach him a lesson. Maybe it wasn't even about him. Maybe seeing him fail encouraged or empowered or taught someone else who really needed it. It's not always about you, you know?"

"Yeah," I said, "but that's hard to remember when it's you out there dropping the ball."

"I understand," said God, "but all you have to know is that I love you even when you drop the ball."

"You're talking about trust," I said.

"I'm talking about faith," said God.

Just then, a great moan went up from the crowd. Our center's hook shot had been spiked into the upper deck. I hung my head. "It's going to be a long night," I said.

"No," said God, "you're going to win by 15."

My head came up. "Really?"

God gave me a look. "Joking," he said.

Leonard Pitts' column appears regularly. His e-mail is lpitts@miamiherald.com.

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