forget about that last play

I am a basketball player at heart. I’ve played ball since I was a child and continued through high school. It was my first love and I have fond memories of playing still to this day. When I’m on the court, you hear strictly “swish.”

 bball

Skill, knowledge of the game, and athleticism all play a major role in basketball success—but I think the key aspect separating good players from great players is mental maturity. Mental maturity, to me, in any sport, is the ability to continue to play the game after you’ve committed a bad play. You must have the mentality to hustle back on defense after you’ve thrown the ball away. And your level of mental maturity can keep you on the court or land you on the bench.

One of my favorite movies, for obvious reason, is Love and Basketball. In one pivotal scene, Monica, the lead character, was battling for a starting position on her college team. Toward the end of a tight game, she threw the ball away with mere seconds left on the clock, which could have cost her team the victory. Instead, she hustled back on defense and ultimately won the game. Rather than succumb to her mistake, which was a huge one, she continued to play, and because of that she secured the starting position. Just as with sports, we need to have the mental maturity in our Christian walk to forget about our past sins. We must still forge forward knowing we have a less-than-perfect record.

Any failure I experienced as a star athlete usually stemmed from three things: lack of initiative, lack of confidence, and anger. (Yes, in addition to natural basketball talent and athleticism, I had a bad attitude.) Plagued with this mentality, I was prone to make a mistake on the court, which would saddle me with guilt. Remaining stuck on that last play, I would simply check out of the game mentally.

My spiritual life has been filled with the same pitfalls, which can have me benched here and there. When I’m not committed to studying, praying, or meditating on God’s word, I become spiritually bankrupt—which leads to sin—which leads to guilt. I get stuck in the snare of my past sins, making them bigger than God. I get stuck having lost confidence in God’s sovereignty. Then being angry, mostly with myself for the mess I have made, I get stuck there on that last play where I threw the ball away. And as I wallow in my self-pity, the other team scores, and I am rightly sidelined and left to watch the game from the bench.

But in order to win I must bounce back, realizing what Christ did on the cross for me, understanding that His promises are true, realizing that I have ALREADY been forgiven once I truly repent and turn away from that sin. No good coach in the world would punish a player that has the mental capability to bounce back from a mistake and learn how not to continue to make the same mistake again. So there is no reason to believe God would punish us for making a mistake in life, provided we learn from it, forget about it, and bounce back. Otherwise, we remain stagnant.

past sin

So please…forget about that last play.

Pre-Existing Condition

 

pre-existing condition

While my husband and I were still dating, I experienced the crushing loss of my older brother—he was only 35. My brother and I both suffered from the same medical condition known as familial adenomatous polyposis. The mere fact that I inherited it means there is a 50% chance that I will pass the same condition on to my children. If gone untreated, FAP invariably becomes a high risk factor of colon cancer during the adult years. So at age 19, my brother had most of his colon surgically removed. Unfortunately, the procedure was not fail safe. In his early 30’s, my dear brother was diagnosed with colon cancer, and it eventually got the best of him. My husband understood the seriousness of my condition prior to our engagement, yet he married me regardless. Because he loves me.

I thought about this one day and felt exceedingly grateful for my husband. He looked past my condition and chose to spend his life with me. I would consider myself to be sort of “high risk”. Not only with the cost of medical bills from frequent check-ups, but also the chance of what could happen with our children. High risk for sure, yet he chose me. And then I began to think of the risk Jesus Christ took when choosing to be my Savior. I mean, I was born with a pre-existing condition, one that goes deeper than any physical condition could ever reach—a condition called sin. We were all born into it, and there is a 100% chance that our children will be born into it.

It is in our nature to sin, and sin separates us from God. It’s pre-existing and perpetual. And if not treated, it’s deadly. We are all considered “high risk”. It’s in our nature to turn away from God in our sin, and yet, Jesus wants a relationship with us anyway. So much so that He established a new covenant with us through His death, burial, and resurrection. Ephesians 2:3-5 says, “3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh,fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath,even as others. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love where with he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)”. Jesus understood the magnitude of our sin, prior to purchasing us by His own blood, yet He offered Himself regardless. “Why?” you may ask…because He loves us.

love, covenant