Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
From a very young age Konrad Reuland was showing signs of exceptional energy. At age four, he jumped out of the grocery cart. His mom could not keep up with him. When she finally did, he was hiding in a frozen food cooler. So the Reuland family chose to harness that energy by enrolling him in youth sport leagues. He played basketball, football, and baseball. Then, at age 11, Konrad had an experience that would change his life forever. Hall of Famer Rod Carew visited his school to meet and encourage the children. The Los Angeles infield, who had bore the number 29 throughout his career, had been Rookie of the Year in 1967 and an All-Star for 18 consecutive seasons. He was 1977 American League MVP and the winner of seven batting titles. He was a legend in the LA area.
Konrad met him personally. His mom remembers that the encounter was all Konrad could talk about when she picked him up from school that day:
And I remember him getting into the car when I went to pick him up, and he says, ‘Mommy! Mom! Mom! I met Rod Carew today!’ And, ‘You know, he was a pro athlete!’ And, ‘You know, I want to be a pro athlete!’ And the whole rest of the day just resonated with him talking about his meeting Rod Carew. And it sure left an impression on young Konrad.
Later, in college, Konrad played football two years for Notre Dame and two years at Stanford. He then played for the New York Jets where he caught 11 passes during his first year. He was just beginning to be recognized as a rising star when a knee injury knocked him out of the sport he loved. When he finally recovered, NFL teams were reluctant to take a chance on him. But this didn’t stop Konrad from preparing for the shot he was sure would be right around the corner. He was, by all accounts, in the best shape of his life.
One day, while in the gym, Konrad climbed onto a treadmill. He had been lifting weights and was finishing up with some cardio. He had a headache. As he began to jog, Konrad felt something click behind his right eye. Paramedics had to be called. By the time he was admitted to UCLA Medical Center, EMS had diagnosed him with a major aneurysm.
The next day his mother, who had went to the cafeteria to pick-up some coffee for her son, sent him an encouraging message. Konrad replied: ”I’m about to kick this thing’s butt, with the help of God. He had something big in store for me.” That was the last conversation she would have with her son. Shortly after, the aneurysm burst, and Konrad never regained consciousness. On Dec. 12, 2016, Konrad Reuland was declared brain dead at the age of 29.
Some months earlier, while completing out a motor vehicle form, Konrad had checked a little box indicating his willingness to be an organ donor in the event of his death. Now, his heart, that powerful, healthy organ of a major league sport athlete would save the life of another individual. His mother remembers speaking with a member of the transplant organization: ”’Whoever gets his heart, we would like to meet them.’ And then the next thing I said was, ‘And whoever gets his heart better deserve it, because it’s a good one.”’
No long after, somewhere across town, a call went out to the recipient at the top of the organ transplant list. That recipient, in the providence of God, just happened to be Rod Carew, the same MLB hall of famer who had been so instrumental in encouraging a young Konrad Reuland 18 years earlier. The heart Carew had inspired would now be the heart that saved his life.
After his diagnosis, Carew had started a foundation to further awareness and research for heart disease. The name of this foundation, the Heart of 29.
In any community, whether it is a city of millions or a church of hundreds, we are frequently encouraged by those we have encouraged. And we are helped by those we have helped. Occasionally, God gives us a glimpse of this machinery of creation. When he does, we can clearly see what is known to be true, what Jesus shared with his disciples: ”With the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
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