Midnight Basketball and the Life of the Disciple

18 Nov


Photo by haml on Morgue File.

So, my Auburn Tigers scheduled a midnight basketball game last night . . . eh, earlier today, against Colorado. Colorado has been a very good team the last few years and will probably make it to the NCAA tournament this year . . . Auburn, well, we haven’t been very good in, well, several years, and we probably won’t make it to the tournament this year.

Most people understood, myself included, we were over-matched in the game. We have a new coach this year that has brought a lot of buzz and excitement to the program. In fact, he has probably brought more buzz than at any time in the history of Auburn basketball. He would be one of the ones who knew AU was out of its league in this contest, but he scheduled the game anyway.

Now, not only did the Auburn players have to deal with a midnight start, face a superior, well-coached team, but, they also had to brave the high altitudes of Colorado. If I am counting correctly that is three strikes against us!

To their credit, AU played well the first half. The second half, well, that is another story. The final ended up being about a thirty point victory for the Buffaloes.

I was one of the crazy ones who actually stayed up and watched the whole game. Yes, from midnight to just after 2 am I was sitting in my living room pulling for the Tigers. Yes, I knew it was a long shot. Yes, I knew the chances of us winning were slight to zero. I am, as many in the South, a much bigger football fan than basketball, but, what can I say, I guess I have bought into the hype!

So, my question is two-fold (so then do I have a two-fold question or just simply two questions?!): one, why schedule a game that you are almost certain (but hey, anything can happen so you never know until you play the game!) you will lose? and two, why be crazy enough to lose valuable sleeping time to stay up and watch a game that, as a fan, you know you are almost certain (but, hey anything can happen . . . oh, never mind) you will lose?!

As to the first part, I do not suppose I can really say, since I am not the coach or the AD. I have my theories, which include: national exposure for the program, honing your skills by playing a good, quality opponent and having a measuring stick to see where you are as a player, team and program and where (and how far) you need to go to matching a superior opponent.

Why did I stay up to watch it? I’m crazy? I’m too much of a fan? I didn’t need the beauty sleep? I suppose the possibilities are endless.

It did cause me to think though. Playing a superior opponent in basketball at midnight and watching said contest is a lot like life in some respects.

There are those times when the odds are stacked heavily against you, but you must forge ahead nonetheless. You may not win that round of battles, but it will prove beneficial to you in the long run.

The scars you suffer in the midnight battle today will be lessons learned and remembered at other midnights on future days. Scars are never fun to suffer. However, they can be great learning tools and reminders of struggles in the past.

We must also remember that not all scars are the result of losses or failures. We tend to think in this way it seems. Sometimes our biggest scars come from successes and victories. They come from those hard-fought victories that took a pound of hide out of us, figuratively speaking (at least usually!).

But, even those scars that do come from travails and losses, those scars can be the most advantageous to us. If, that is, we allow them to be so. So many times we just want to gloss over them. We want to cover them up. We want to conceal them, to forget them and ignore them. This, we often do, to the hazard of our own health and spiritual life.

Each scar is a reminder of something. Whether that something be success or failure, victory or defeat, perseverance or surrender, God’s grace or chastisement . . . each are there to teach us and help us.

The Christian life brings about scars. They are inevitable. Sometimes fighting the good fight is not about the victory or that particular battle; but rather the toil and sacrifice and lessons learned by so doing. It is about being faithful and a good steward of what and who God has called us to be. We know, as believers, the victory is ultimately won. The victory has been won for us by Christ. The battles, on the other hand, can go either way.

Ultimately though, we are conquerors no matter what; or, to phrase it as Paul, we are more than conquerors. We are so, not because of our own efforts or skill or talents; but rather, because of the sole-sufficiency and triumph of Christ.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8.31-39, ESV)

So, whether your battle comes at midnight or mid-day, be ready and be prepared. Be willing to stand faithfully. Be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ, willing to minister to others and share the gospel of Christ with those (whether they know it or not) are desperate to hear it.

As with midnight basketball in Colorado, sometimes you have to take your lumps before the crown will fit!


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