Friday, January 4, 2013

Playing the Game

Hebrews 13:5-65 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say,“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.What will man do to me?”

When I was in middle school, we had a coach for an after-school athletic club called ‘Township League’.  In the summer we used to gather to play baseball and in the winter we played basketball.  The coach was there to teach us and mentor us.  He volunteered his time because he loved kids and because he was a great guy.  Harold Torro was his name and I shall never forget him or the lessons he taught us.

I remember particularly this one incident when I was playing basketball. Mind you, I was about 5 feet 4 inches at the time...not much shorter than I am now, and I was terribly overweight.  I have been practically all my life.  Not very good at a game like basketball which requires speed and agility.  But I had a desire to be part of the team.   Coach would send me in for a quarter or so every game and I loved it.

This one time as I was on defense, I fouled a player. Coach called me on it correctly and quickly and sent me to the bench.  I was heartbroken.  Here I was, a small, over-weight 7th grader trying to play with the big guys and I wasn’t doing too well and I felt badly because I really did not want to foul was that I was just too slow.

Coach came up to me after I was sulking a while and he put his arm around me and said, “LaGrew, if you don’t foul every now and again, you’re just not playing the game. Now go in there LaGrew and give it all you got.”

I never forgot that lesson and I never forgot those words he said to me that night.  It encouraged me and taught me a lesson that I have taken and used through my entire life.

Jesus taught his Disciples the same lesson.  He never required them to be perfect and never to make mistakes.  He encouraged them and taught them that doing something for the Kingdom may indeed lead to mistakes, but that even in the midst of failure and heartbreak, He would be there for them.  Not just once, but every time and all the time

Christians, I have heard it said, shoot their wounded. We are all wounded in one way or another.  Every one of us have committed fouls in the game.  Everyone of us have done things we may not be proud of, yet Christ has not forsaken us.  He, like my Coach so many years ago, points out where we have gone wrong, but then, He puts his arm around us, hugs us and says, “Go back out there and give it all you’ve got.”

This year, make that commitment.  Do not give up even though you may fall short.  We all. in some way, contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of God.  Let us encourage one another and build each other up in love.  Let us all get back in the game. Let us all win for Christ!