Many people leave indelible impressions on us, some for the good and some for the bad. I have been thinking a lot about my JV basketball coach lately.
One of the things my wife, kids and I do is chase after the activities of our family, particularly the activities of our children. Last night we sat at a Christmas concert at school and were blessed by the singing of the kids, the musical choices and the like. Tonight we will sit through basketball games.
Since Christ has really invaded my heart and taken up a good share of space there, my heart has changed in a number of areas, including athletics. They don't matter to me like they once did, but I still have a competitive side and God has yet to show me a referee who is any good or really knows what he was doing (I have friends who officiate these games and I give them a hard time, too).
Before the season began a couple of weeks ago I told my wife that I no longer want to be that fan in the stands who is constantly yelling at the officials and questioning every call (though it is pretty easy to question them all). I told her I want to go the whole season without "any problems."
I made it through three quarters of my daughters first game before my old high school JV coach came to mind. It was a nip-and-tuck game against a team our girls had never beaten. They have a girl who is a force in the paint, which is good for them. The problem, though, is that she sets up shop in the lane and rarely leaves.
Now, for those who don't know basketball, this is a violation. You have to move in and out of the lane, not staying in the painted area for more than three seconds at a crack.
After having a three seconds violation called on our girls a little earlier in the game, and as I see the game starting to slip away, it was time for me to offer the refs a little help. "FOUR, FIVE, SIX" I counted out for them. I am a big guy who has a mega-phone voice when I need to use it. I wasn't too loud, but I was definitely audible.
Then I looked to my right. There is my beautiful wife looking at me, smirking almost as she asks, "How is that working out for you?"
I didn't even make it a full game, but I want to continue to improve in this area.
But more than that, I'd like you to work with me in this a little bit today. The three second violation exists in an area that is in close proximity to our goal. It is called when we spend too much time in an area that at most is 15 feet away from the goal.
If a referee was officiating your game today, would he be able to call you for three seconds because you are spending too much time close to God, our goal? Would the whistle blow because of too much time being spent in the Word, in prayer, in worship or with others who are chasing Christ?
I want to live in the lane! I want to set up shop in the paint and have whistles blaring all around me while I take the time to heed the words of Psalm 46. "Be still and know that I am God."
Holding basketball up to life right now is pretty easy. Our lives are lived in the transition game. We are busy filling the lanes up and down the floor, trying to hustle back on defense, rebounding from the misses in our lives, and then flying back down the floor hoping for a look at the basket or goal, if you will.
My wife called me for three seconds yesterday.
I spent an hour during the morning with a friend I haven't seen in a while. Our lives are similar in that we are business owners who are wrestling with what God has in store for us. We both are part of church ministries that are operating outside of the normal church box and we have a love for the other that is centered in Christ. It was a great "three seconds" of "being still." So was the drive to and from.
I got back to town in time to have lunch with another friend whom I dine with every week. We are walking through the tough stuff of life together and the hour we spend together is a blessing to me each week. We talk God, farming, business, sports and whatever else comes up, but the "three seconds" is a great part of my week.
An hour later, another friend called and we grabbed a cup of coffee at the local diner. I know, that's a lot of caffeine, but with the conversation centered around what God is up to in our church, in our lives and where we are headed, it was another great "three second violation" of being still.
How do you take "three seconds?" Do you take "three seconds?"
Remember the good old days before shot clocks? When basketball teams ran the four-corners offense to slow the game down, spread the floor and get easier looks at the goal? My prayer today is that you experience grace and peace as you camp in the lane, that you are intentional in being whistled for three seconds in the scriptures, in worship, in prayer and time with others who believe, and also with those who are hurting and in need of Christ.
Grace and peace,