“Keep me from deceitful ways…I have chosen the way of truth…I hold fast to your rules, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame.” Psalm 119:29-31
“Oh Lord help me hold fast to your rules!” It’s a blast coaching 4th & 5th grade boys in our local youth basketball program! One of the major rules is that all players get equal playing time, regardless of skill level. This is to help ensure that ALL players have opportunity to improve their game. At this age, developing as a player is priority and winning is supposedly not yet “everything.” But try telling that to a bunch of “grown” men as coaches!
“Oh Lord, keep me from deceitful ways!” I’m a deceitful human being! When winning becomes all consuming, I’m tempted to do what it takes to get what I want! That’s why I absolutely need God’s transforming power in my life! I’m counting on God to change me and keep me from deceitful ways. And I’m thankful that God, like a good coach, gives me enough “playing time” to develop….my character!
“Oh Lord, help me chose the way of truth here!” Our boys’ last ball game was a real “nail-biter!” We were “neck and neck” in the last quarter, and I wanted to win badly! The thought actually occurred to me, “how convenient it would be if one of our players on the court were to suffer a minor injury, allowing us to legally “sub in” one of our best players.” (Did I mention I’m a sinner?) Suddenly, it happened!—one of our guys was hit in the mouth and sustained minor bleeding. He was forced to come out of the game, and we “subbed in” one of our best point guards. I was feeling hopeful! But with the game on the line, and the clock dwindling to two minutes, the bleeding had finally stopped, and I was faced with a major decision—if I kept our “sub” in the game, nobody would ever know, care, or complain and this seemed like our best chance at winning—but it was deceitful. What was I going to do? I’d never make it in the NBA as a coach if I couldn’t win at the “Pee Wee” level! Praise God—in the heat of the moment, with winning on the line, and my heart being pulled in a dishonest direction, I quickly chose the way of truth, and our injured warrior checked back into the game!
“Oh Lord, do not let me be put to shame here!” He played like a champ! And with 16 seconds on the clock, down by one point, our team stole the ball, and stormed towards the basket. The first shot was no good! Hustle. Rebound. Second shot. Crowd gasping. Close! Ohhh! But no good!
And with hope ticking madly off the clock, our injured warrior scrapped for the loose ball, and released a shot just as the buzzer sounded! Against all odds, the ball crept its way right into the basket—game winner! Parents, players, & coaches all leaped with joy!
Thank you God!
Two little boys went home ecstatic that day after sharing one of the biggest moments of their lives! And one of them was me.