Away From the Ball

The Center Grove boys basketball team won the sectional championship Saturday.  I decided I would go catch the game since there was a chance it would be the last basketball game I would get to see before we launch in October.

It has been a long time since I sat and watched a basketball game.  I remembered, watching the game, a very important part of basketball (and most team sports for that matter).  You win or lose the game because of what happens away from the ball.

I found myself watching what has happening under basket when the ball was at the top of the key.  I discovered myself being more entertained by watching the coach talk to the players on the court as they set up plays.  And…I really enjoyed watching the hard-fought battle in the paint between two forward (in which one lost his cool and lost control of his emotions….hurting his team).

There was just so much to watch.  There was so much going on.  And it all had a pivotal role in the outcome of the game.  It all determined the winner…and the loser.

I think, in the game of life, we lose sight of the fact that the things that happen away from the ball are crucial events in the grand scheme of things.  I can speak for myself, when I say that this has proved itself over and over again.

I really enjoy leading Sunday morning worship.  That is when the proverbial ball is in my hand.  That is when I feel like I have the best opportunity to score for Team Kingdom.  Maybe that is true.  But I have to remember…that opportunity does not come without the crucial work that comes before I ever have the “ball” in my hand.

Too often we look at the event, rather than the preparation.   Too often we think that the only time we can do anything worthwhile for God is when the ball is placed in our hands and the game is on the line.

However, the most impactful thing you can do for God and the Kingdom is to put in the work in the paint.  Like a good forward who fights for position under the basket, we must prepare ourselves through Scripture, prayer, fasting, and general obedience to God.  Like a player receiving coaching from the sideline, we must live our lives as Christ has called us to live.

Typically, there is no major acknowledgement of these things.  In fact, many people will not even notice you.  And that is when it gets hard.  We want to be noticed.  We want to be impact players in everyone else’s eyes.   We want recognition.  We want that moment in the spotlight when we did something GREAT for the Kingdom.

Here is the reality though:  if you don’t put in the work away from the ball…that time will never come. God does not look for selfish, ball-hogging, attention-craved players.  He is looking for team players.  Players who are willing to do what it takes…so Team God gets the win and the credit.

I think He is looking for people like Turkey Run’s girl basketball team-members Shelby Davis.  After her team was defeated this past weekend in the state championship, she was awarded the Mental Attitude Award.  When asked to comment on what this award meant for her, she never said “I” anything.  All she had to say were “we” comments.

She knew…that her success had little to do with what she did as an individual but more to do with all the many things that happened away from the ball as a team.Shelby knew that her success…was a team success.  She would not have accomplished here success if it were not for the girls around here making it possible.

I guess my question for you this morning (the my question for myself) is…are you focusing on the work in the paint, away from the ball?  Or are you just sitting back waiting for the ball to do anything for God?

By the way…if you are just sitting back waiting…the ball will never come.

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