>I’ve played basketball for a long, long time. Granted, those first few years couldn’t really be recognized as actual “basketball,” because, well, I was terrible, but the equipment stayed the same. I’ve tried to bounce shots off cars, out of cars, off my house, from my street, tried to use a t-ball bat to hit shots in (ask me about that sometime, it’s hilarious), shot left-handed, right-handed, two-handed; I’ve tried everything.
At least I thought I had.
When I was in 4th grade, my grandpa took me to see the Harlem Globetrotters. They did something I hadn’t yet dreamed of: the dude dropped kicked a basketball from half court and made it. Combining sports, soccer and basketball fused into a moment of excellence and mind-blowing skill (and obviously luck) that left me stunned.
Needless to say, at my basketball game later that night, I tried this mighty feat in warmups. Almost killed innocent bystanders with the errant boot and almost killed grandpa from laughing too hard.
From then on, every couple of years or so, I’d get the fire in my belly and want to try again. And inevitably, I would fail miserably, hope no one was watching, and go back to regular basketball. I eventually got to where I was pretty good at the roundball; won a championship or two, could have probably played for my school, etc. I got to college and stopped playing regularly and lost my game, and now it’s just a fun pastime that I’m not very good at anymore.
My junior year of college I went to Manchester, NH on a Spring Break Campaign, and the first day we had a 24 hour youth group lock in. By the time church ended on Sunday, we had all been up for a little over 40 hours and were zombies. The kids were still running amok and we tried to keep up with them, and somehow in the midst of cold and rain and muck we got dragged outside to the basketball “court” in their parking lot; a slanted, potholed blacktop with under-inflated, slick basketballs and a hill on the other side that made errant shots run a good distance away from the court. After playing around for a bit, I decided that if I didn’t sit down, a trip to the ER would soon be on the agenda to take care of my exhaustion. While walking away, back to the warmth and cushioned chairs of the indoor kitchen, a rebound rolled out to me, a good 40 to 50 feet from the goal.
And for some reason, I just turned around, picked it up, and punted it.
And swished it.
Everyone just froze in shock, including myself. The parents, kids, and my fellow campaigners weren’t quite sure what to do with what they had just witnessed. I kind of yelped in celebration, remembered my strong desire to sit down, chuckled, shrugged, and went inside.
Twelve years of attempting this ridiculous sports feat had finally culminated in success, and I was too tired to really appreciate it or celebrate. But all it took was that one time…freak circumstances, bad weather, goal built on the side of a hill, a dozen other factors that made it unlikely that that attempt would finally bring me sweet release from the Globetrotter demon.
I’m reading the book “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybels, talking about how we can change peoples’ lives in the span of ten steps, taking the chance to go talk to them about life and hopefully Christ if the opportunity presents itself. He relates stories of freak trips where he met people on the side of roads, at dinner parties, at his son’s soccer games and because he kept trying, he eventually was able to share the Greatest News of All (sounds better than Good News) with them in one freak random moment.
It may not be when we expect. We may be tired, we may have the odds stacked against us, but God desires to use us in His plan. If we really do believe what we say we believe, and if we really do view it as a matter of altering eternity, then shouldn’t that effect the way we handle life every day? Pray for strength, pray for courage, and pray for opportunity.
And keep kicking.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20