Far More Than A Christmas Gift
Christmas is quickly approaching and many of us are celebrating humanity’s greatest gift (Jesus!) by giving gifts of our own. One gifting tradition, American as Apple Pie and College Football is gifting basketball goals to children. I still remember waking up Christmas morning beyond excited as I realized my wish list had been accomplished. The new basketball goal that I had wanted (needed!) was sitting in my parents living room with a huge red bow attached.
The time I spent using that Christmas gift is far too numerous to count. Every week, my family, friends, and even the Schwan man (yes the Schwan man could ball!) would come over after school and we would play until sunset. It was on that dirt basketball court that I learned far more than how to play basketball…I learned two significant lessons about following Jesus.
1.Victories Aren’t Free
I still remember the first time I beat my dad in basketball. In our culture, it’s popular for dads to “let their children win” but not in our backyard. I remember multiple occasions where games ended with me running to my mom, furious that my dad had beaten me at one-on-one (mostly as a child!).
I didn’t know it then, but my dad was teaching me about life. If he had just “let me win” my character development would have had to be developed in some other realm. The time my dad and I spent playing basketball was more than mere father-son bonding, it was Christian discipleship where he was instilling in his son the character traits he knew I needed to become more like Jesus. It is easy to follow Christ when things are going well, but following Christ when things are difficult takes discipleship that free victories can never provide.
As I grew my ability to put a whooping on my dad grew with me. I still remember the first time I had to break the backyard rule and let him score a few points. After all the lessons he taught me it’s the least I could do. Now, as a father myself, I cannot wait for the day my son Graham has to take it easy on me.
Question: Is there an area of the life where you are currently being dominated? Don’t grow weary of doing good! Keep pursuing what God says is best (Galatians 6:9).
2. Raised Goals Make Us Better
Playing basketball in my backyard wasn’t the only place our family liked to play. We also played at my Grandparents. I still remember the Christmas my grandpa put up a goal for the grandkids. Not only was it in a sweet location on their property it also had the ability to lower and raise the rim’s height. The idea of having a goal that I could lower enough to dunk on thrilled me as a child and I really wanted one at home. However, my dad didn’t want me to have a retractable goal. He was a strong believer that as I grew the goal should grow with me.
In life, there are so many temptations to go back to what is easier instead of raising the expectation level. I truly believe that one of the greatest problems facing American followers of Jesus is that we get exactly what we expect..nothing. In the process of avoiding disappointment, we rarely try accomplishing anything of value. We are far too content dunking on the goal meant for children when by now we should be competitive on the goal meant for adults.
The writer of Hebrews addresses this very same issue in Hebrews 5:12:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,
I heard a pastor say once, that we should work as if it is all up to us and pray as if it is all up to God. If that is true, is there an area of your life where you have stopped working? An area where you’ve relied solely upon prayer? This is commonly my problem. I can quickly use prayer as an excuse to not work, but each time I open my Bible I’m reminded that God consistently works through people who consistently work.
God desires more (and the lost around us need to witness more) than followers of Jesus contently living lives dominated by sin and settling for easily obtainable goals (or non-goals). You were made for more!…Raise the goal.
Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God. – William Carey
I pray this helps you grow in your love for Christ, His Church, and His Mission!
2. Dad, sorry I shared (without your approval) that I can whoop you in basketball. I love you and thank you for loving me enough to not let me win.