No one is irreplaceable. With that in mind, I missed our team’s game this past weekend against the preseason favorite to win our conference. It wasn’t an easy decision, but family won out, as we drove fourteen hours to be with my niece for her wedding. Like many other coaches, I’ve missed far too many of those kinds of events over the years! These days, it’s amazing how easy it is to keep up with the progress of the game. My son was able to keep me updated with scores and stats throughout the game, we had text messages with fellow staff immediately after the game, and we were able to watch video footage as soon as we could. When my wife asked me “have you heard how the team did?” I was able to confidently give her a rundown of everything that took place – our team had chances to win, but made some mistakes down the stretch in a close game! So yes, I heard how the team did, but I had a whole day of driving to digest what it all meant. There are a lot of things in life that we hear. We live in the information age when reports and stats fly by. We hear them, but how often do we stop and really digest what it all means?
The loss dropped us to 1-1 in our conference, but hopefully strengthens our confidence as we competed well with the top team. Two glaring stats, though, that I pondered on the long drive home were that we shot only fourteen free throws, after averaging over 30 in our first three games, and that we only assisted on half of our baskets. In basketball, you can often find explanations like officials or the style of the other team to account for trends, but I want to be accountable for the message that our players hear. If we’re clear in our teaching, circumstances should not dramatically affect how we perform. The main message in our offense is attack the rim to create for your teammates. If we consistently do that, we should see high numbers of free throws, high percentage shots like lay-ups and uncontested three-point shots, and a high number of assists. My suspicion is that our team has HEARD “attack the rim”, but may not be learning what that truly means. They may not be clear on the second part, “create for your teammates.”
LIFE – The story behind the story.
Like many people, I’m becoming more concerned about our country. I’m not making a political statement, just an observation. We seem to hear lots of headlines, tweets, and snippets about the troubles in Washington, but very few of us really digest what we hear. As a result, government continues to grow and grow to a point where few of us can even relate to the decisions being made on our behalf. If we have truly digested the information would we continue to elect officials who mislead us and hide their true intentions?
FAITH – Have you not heard?
A Bible study group I attend is reading Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel and it struck me how so many of us hear the Gospel but don’t really take the time to consider how amazing the message of grace is. Manning points out “I am flabbergasted by the widespread refusal across this land to think big about a loving God.” And that God, the creator, the designer, and the source of everything in this world, wants to have a relationship with you. Maybe you’ve heard that, but have you’ve really thought about how incredible it is? Can the evolution taught in our schools really explain the complexities of this world, like how the exact slant of the earth being 23 degrees produces all of our seasons and limits the size of the polar ice caps? Can random cosmic explosions place the Earth exactly where it is in relation to the sun and provide for the existence of life? We need to really understand, and not just hear, the words of the prophet Isaiah (Ch. 40) written thousands of years ago:
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers. (vv.21-22)
“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing (vv. 25-26)
That all-powerful God, who put the stars in place and put the earth exactly where he wanted it, wants to have a relationship with you! That’s what Christmas is all about. He sent His son to live as we live so that we can relate to Him. Have you not heard? Have you not thought about what that means? Just like our team will show in their play that they understand what they’ve heard, your life and actions should show that you’ve heard the message of God’s grace.