Field of Dreams – by Ed Dunn

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Friend and Partner Letter from September 2022

Once again Ed Dunn favors us by writing our letter this month. Given the topic of baseball which forms the illustration of the vital spiritual lesson Ed shares below, we might say he has become a regular in our batting order, coming up to bat for our September letter! 

As most of you know, as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ed wears many hats at PTM. Earlier this year he authored “Looking at Life from the Outside In” for the cover of our March Plain Truth. Many appreciated it as a powerful and inspiring account of some of his own struggles in life as he has picked up his own cross to follow Jesus. In addition, Ed hosts our monthly video blog “This Month at PTM.” You will also know him from his column “One Day at a Time” appearing in our Plain Truth magazines, and for those of you who call us or wish for us to call you, Ed is a familiar voice on the phone. 

We are thankful for the important role Ed plays in our ongoing work, and the “hits” he provides in our batting order when he “comes up to the plate.” So, here’s Ed! —Greg Albrecht

The 1989 Academy Award winning movie, Field of Dreams, would have to be one of my “top ten” favorite movies of all time. Set in the great state of Iowa, a farmer named Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) hears a voice and is inspired to plow under a huge portion of his corn crop in order to build a baseball field. The recurring and somewhat perplexing words Ray hears, If you build it, he will come! repeat as a whisper again and again in his ears.

Not knowing for sure whether the words he’s hearing are coming from inside his own head or from the corn around him, Ray buries his cash crop despite the fact his wife thinks he’s crazy, neighboring farmers scoff and he himself does battle with acres of self-doubt. Plowing under his corn goes against everything a reasonable farmer would know about the purpose for, and the profit to be gained from, such rich farmland. Ray’s decision to follow the voice could well bankrupt his family.

As the story unfolds, Ray hears two additional messages: Ease his pain and Go the distance are new messages that lead Ray on what he suspects may be a wild goose-chase to the states of Massachusetts and Minnesota. Ray has no idea what the messages may mean as they come, nor why he needs to take the long trek in his VW bus, but he lets the impulse and the events that take place guide him as he goes. From each state, Ray ultimately meets a character who is integral to the movie’s themes. Slowly and surely, the events as they unfold begin to make sense.

On the trip home from Minnesota to Iowa, Ray stops his VW bus and meets a hitchhiker who goes by the name of Archie Graham, or “Moonlight Graham” as his nickname would identify him. Ray had been prompted to travel all the way to Minnesota from Massachusetts in order to find and invite a “Moonlight Graham” to play baseball on his field in the corn. But Ray had come up empty in Minnesota and started for home. Somehow, magically, the young man Ray picked up on his way was none-other-than a youthful version of the Archie Graham he had been trying to find.

Archie “Moonlight” Graham never got to bat in the major-leagues. Although he played one half inning for the New York Giants, he never had the chance to face down a major-league pitcher. That was a dream that hadn’t come true. Not long after his half-inning in the outfield, Archie washed out of major-league baseball and returned to his small hometown in Minnesota. There, he went on to medical school and became a doctor. Having found a purpose beyond baseball, Archie “Moonlight” Graham practiced medicine in his small hometown for over fifty years.

Upon returning home to Iowa, both Ray and Archie were astonished to find two full teams of former big-league greats playing baseball on Ray’s field in the corn. Shoeless Joe Jackson, Mel Ott, Gil Hodges and several members of the 1919 White Sox team had all come back to play baseball once again. To his surprise, Archie was invited by Shoeless Joe to grab his glove and join the others on the field. Compared to the baseball “giants” he was joining, Archie’s youthful frame looked so small as he made his way across the baseball diamond.

Ray, his wife, Annie, and their lovely little daughter, Karen, all sat under a perfect summer sun as they watched the big-league greats play baseball. Cheering, taunting and even doing “the wave,” they reveled in the joy of those on the field. The three cheered the loudest for Archie, a literal boy among men, as it was his turn to grab a baseball bat and make his way to home plate. Archie would finally get his chance to bat in the majors, to face a big-league pitcher, and to see what he could do.

As Archie stepped into the batter’s box, the first pitch he faced was a high-and-tight fastball that brushed him back and nearly took off his head. After some good-natured complaining from the other players to the ump, Archie stepped back into the batter’s box and promptly winked at the pitcher.

Again, he got another high-and-tight fastball that had the same effect. After some quick coaching from Shoeless Joe, Archie’s bat made contact with the third pitch and the ball traveled far enough into the outfield to score the runner from third. In his first at-bat, Archie hit a sacrifice fly.

There are so many themes within this movie that catch the emotion in my throat:

  • the fulfillment of a longed-for dream,
  • a reconciliation of a father, a son and their family after a harsh and horrible estrangement,
  • the beauty of the cycles of life and death,
  • and, of course, the passion for our national pastime, that of baseball.

But the one theme that captures me the most in this movie is:

  • the theme of purpose.

Not long after Archie got his first major-league at-bat, Ray’s young daughter Karen suddenly began to choke and fell backward off the homemade wooden bleachers. No one close to Karen knew how to help. Ray and Annie couldn’t tell what was wrong. Karen had stopped breathing. In pure desperation, Ray looked out from the bleachers toward the baseball diamond and without a word caught Archie’s eye. Archie immediately started moving toward Karen.

As he crossed the white chalk first-base line, Archie’s uniformed pantleg and dusty black cleat became a blue, pinstriped suit pantleg and a polished black business shoe. The major-league rookie, now with an at-bat under his belt, was being called upon to turn the clock forward and become a life-saving doctor once again.

Archie saved Ray and Annie’s little girl, Karen. As it turned out, Karen was merely choking on a hot dog. When Ray discovered what Archie already knew, that he had crossed the threshold of the first-base line and couldn’t go back, Ray got emotional and called it a tragedy. Archie reassured Ray that the real tragedy would’ve been for him not to become a doctor and practice for fifty years. Archie then turned and left the field, with Shoeless Joe Jackson calling after him, “Hey, rookie, you were good!” 

As Christ-followers, we too come to a point in time when we step across a line and can’t go back. We come to a place where we find our true purpose in life, our purpose in Christ Jesus. As Paul says, we leave behind the old man (or the old woman) and become a new creation in him (2 Corinthians 5:17). All things then become new and we live our lives from a deeper spiritual purpose.

As we do, we bring many good God-given gifts and attributes from our former life into our new life. Now, we live and use those gifts and attributes from a place of being part of Christ’s community. In a real sense, we are teammates on Christ’s team, and we live our lives in a state of grace. As members of his body, we all have our part to play.

We may not have the opportunity to fulfill every dream we hope for in this life. Sadly, this physical life can have its share of disappointments and limitations. Hopefully, however, by God’s grace, we will have the chance to fulfill many of our dreams. Hopefully we can wink at the challenges we face. In the richness of his field, we live, we play, and we find our joy.

Thankful for the purpose we are given in our lives, as Christ-followers, as Jesus lives in us and we in him… and thankful to be your friend and fellow partner,

Ed Dunn

Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Plain Truth Ministries

P.S. From Greg: Many thanks, Ed! Thanks for reminding us of the incredible purpose we have in our lives by the grace of God. I am reminded as I remember “Field of Dreams” (also one of my all-time favorite movies) specifically, and of baseball in general, of the privilege we all, as CWR/PTM Friends and Partners, have in being on this team— sharing the GOOD NEWS. Thank you for being on our team!

Letters to My Friends

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