For those who have not been following, we are in the middle of the NBA championship, and the Thunder are playing the Miami Heat. It’s the best of seven, and Miami won on Tuesday nite to lead the series 3-1. It’s been a dramatic series and Tuesday nite was no exception.
With just a few minutes left to play in the game, Miami’s star Lebron James went down with serious cramps in one thigh. He couldn’t run to the other end, where the Thunder tried but failed to score. Miami got the ball back, and threw it down the court to James who was standing alone, but essentially on one leg. An opponent rushed to prevent James from making a shot, but he threw the ball up anyway, and two points! A short time later James had the ball at the top of the lane, but was still hobbling, and he calmly netted a three.
With less than a minute to go, the Thunder were behind but still within reach. Although there were only five seconds for Miami to shoot, Russell Westbrook, the outstanding Thunder guard, deliberately fouled Miami. It was a mistake. Miami won the game.
The mistake might have cost the Thunder the game. In an interview after the game, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was asked about this. His answer was that the game was not won or lost on that mistake……instead it was the sum tally of all the events that occurred during the game. He pointed out that Westbrook had poured in 43 points, in one of the all-time high scores in a final series. Westbrook kept attacking the basket and scoring, and by himself kept the Thunder in the game.
I thought the Brooks comment was a God-like thing to say. After the mistake, Westbrook must have felt absolutely terrible. I have played enough football games to recognize it on his face as he walked down the corridor to the locker-rooms when the game was over. In life we all make mistakes (even when we are trusting for God’s guidance), and we feel terrible. At times like this I think God would say to us something similar, perhaps: “It wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t mean, it was a mistake or it was an accident, or you didn’t have enough information. You are a child of Mine and you follow My ways. I forgive you, and I will defend you through this event. Please forgive yourself. And please keep on playing and keep on trusting, like Peter and like the prodigal son after they were forgiven”.
In spiritual jargon this is called grace, and it is distinct from performance-based Christianity. Grace brings comfort and forgiveness after a mistake, encourages us to re-think a situation, and motivates us to try something else (to look to the resources of God). I have more than once heard people that have been laid off from their work say “It was the best thing that ever happened to me”, because it forced them on to other jobs which turned out better.
“We’re going to keep fighting”, the other Thunder champion Kevin Durant said after the game. “It’s just frustrating, but we’re going to keep fighting”.
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers….
“Therefore thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah]: If you return [and give up this mistaken tone of distrust and despair], then I will give you again a settled place of quiet and safety, and you will be My minister”. (Jeremiah, chapter 15).
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Funny: Little Johnny and his family were having Sunday dinner at his Grandmother’s house. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. When Little Johnny received his plate, he started eating right away.
“Johnny! Please wait until we say our prayer” said his mother.
“I don’t need to” the boy replied.
“Of course, you do” his mother insisted. “We always say a prayer before eating at our house”.
“That’s at our house”. Johnny explained. “But this is Grandma’s house, and she knows how to cook”.