OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a basketball junkie. I grew up playing basketball every recess that it wasn’t raining and some when it was. Because they didn’t have AAU basketball when I was a kid (at least not in my neighborhood), I had to wait until junior high school for my opportunity to try out for a team. But the first chance I had, I did, and I made the team even though I was the shortest kid in the school!
I played in high school and would have in college if I didn’t have to pay my own tuition (Pacific Lutheran did not give athletic scholarships and was expensive – even in the dark ages – and if I was payin’ I was passin’). I’ve had season tickets to the Sacramento Kings for 21 years. As soon as my youngest son was old enough to play competitively (because he is a Hoop junkie too), I started coaching. And even though my youngest is headed off to college, I’m still trying to find a way to continue coaching someday.
Yep, I love the game.
One thing I never liked, though, was when, on the playground or the gym, the guys wanted to play “Make it, take it”.
You can probably figure out what that means: If you make a basket, you get to keep the ball instead of giving it to the other team like in the NBA and everywhere else. Usually, making a basket means giving the ball to your opponent so they can give it a try. Not so with “Make it, take it”.
“Make it, take it” just never seemed fair to me. Why should one team be allowed to dominate the game. You’d always get scores like 20 to 4 or something obnoxious like that. I soon learned that the really good players liked “Make it, take it” so they could destroy their opponent.
Well, later in life, I learned to love the whole “Make it, take it” concept in another area of life: The spiritual realm. Paul tells the Galatians about a “Make it, take it” plan played out by Jesus:
Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”?(Deuteronomy 21:23) That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the Cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it. Galatians 3:13-14 The Message
See, it’s as if Jesus took all our bad shots, our clanks off the rim, our bricks, and our air balls, out of the scorebook and put them in His. In their place, He put His swishes, soft-rimmed shooter’s rolls, impossible fall-away jumpers from the baseline, and his three pointers. Then he hit a half court shot at the buzzer for the win, but gave us the post game interview.
“He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse” so that we would no longer be cursed. He cleared the air so we no longer need to be lost in the fog of our failures, the smog of our guilt, and the fumes of our shame.
Because of Jesus, we make the shot every time and we take it out again because of His love for us. We can shut out the opponent every time with His grace, and we are champions because of his sacrifice.
The trick is that you have to believe he can . . .
Pressing on toward the goal . . .