I started counting their shots. One. Two. Three. Finally, a shot cleared the rim. It rattled around the rim; and, then, fell through the ragged net. Shouts of joy followed, along with hand slappin’ and high fives for everyone. Was that a cat I saw fleeing the celebrative scene?
They kept playing. I continued to count. Two shots out of ten trickled through the net. That’s only twenty percent. No basketball coach worth his salt would be satisfied with that. Soon the count reached four out of sixteen. That’s a little better. Then I stopped counting and started thinking. Those youngsters have a lot to teach us about reaching goals. Just think about it.
First, they weren’t afraid to miss! In fact, missing the goal was their specialty. Still, they just kept shooting. I wonder, how many of us never tackle challenges for fear of failure?
Second, they were having fun! While their statistics were poor, they were still enjoying the game. In reality, they barely had the strength to get the ball up to the rim, much less over it and through the net. They were together, though, having a wonderful time. Isn’t it tragic how we often make ourselves miserable over the things we can’t do, rather than enjoying the game?
Third, they didn’t give up! Even though many of their shots didn’t hit the rim—didn’t even reach the rim—they kept tossing the ball up there. No matter how fine tuned their skills are today, every professional player in every sport at some point played the game just like these young people, but they kept trying. How many of us have given up, when we should have just kept shooting?
The fourth thing I observed about these young people at play is they were encouraging one another. We must not miss this one! They didn’t laugh at each other. They didn’t, however, take themselves so seriously they couldn’t laugh with one another. Above all, they were pulling for one another. How many people do you know, who could have soared to greater heights, if they had just enjoyed the pleasure of having someone pulling for them—someone to cheer their efforts, rather than critique their form. How many Christians would have reached maturity in the Lord, rather than falling by the wayside, if someone had just clapped their hands and encouraged them saying, “Come on! You can make it this time” I wonder: Do we realize the importance of encouragement?
Last, these young people seldom ever took their eyes off the goal. Just imagine this scene. Visualize those young basketball players in your mind’s eye. Can you see them? What are they doing? They’re all looking at the goal, aren’t they? Oh, how we need to learn to keep our eyes on Jesus—don’t we?
It is so easy to allow our priorities to get out of whack, isn’t it? We have a tendency to focus on things which—in view of the vastness of eternity—really don’t matter much. These things may seem to be urgent; but, if they cause us to take our eyes off of Jesus, they run contrary to God’s purpose in our lives. After all, growing more like Jesus is the goal towards which we all strive. Becoming Christ-like is the end towards which we encourage others. None of us should ever relinquish this life-objective. We must never give up on this pursuit. We must never forget, also, this is a journey which each of us can take joyfully. Most of all, since grace now reigns through faith, none of need be afraid that we will miss. We just need to keep shooting!
© Bill Williams
May 1, 2015