Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Does God Have To Do With Basketball?!

As a mom of 5 kids - 3 of them being active boys, I am always looking for ways to apply the gospel to their lives in a 'manly' kind of way.  The scriptures don't mention the word 'basketball,' or 'weight lifting' or 'March Madness.'  They DO use action words like 'fishing,' 'building,' and 'swords'... you know, words a tough guy can understand!  I'm always satisfied when they connect to something within the gospel they can apply to their lives. 

We had our church missionaries over for dinner a few months ago.  They always leave us with some sort of devotional or verse of scripture to think about, so one missionary read a few verses of scripture and the other missionary followed up with applying it to our lives.  The second missionary had connected well with our family, being a hunter and basketball player himself before he came into the mission field.  He applied the scripture by saying that Heavenly Father is like our coach.  He can see the court as a whole.  He can see what connections need to be made, who needs to go where, and what spots need filled.  He sees the big picture. 

My boys' ears perked up with the application to basketball.  And what this missionary shared with our family was inspired and timely

In the time since then, our family has participated in numerous basketball tournaments.  One exciting one was an extremely close game with the only team we hadn't beat all season.  It also happened to be the championship game!  As the clock wound down, the game ended in a tie, forcing it into overtime.  The crowd was obnoxiously loud with signs waving, screaming, and cheering. 

I looked to their coach, who was giving instructions to the players to set up on the court.   He was not in the same position as the player on the court with an opponent in his face, or the one scrambling to get out of a double team.  He saw the big picture.  He knew when and where the passes needed to be, the plays they needed to run, and the defense they would need to have to overcome the opponent.

What's more... From where I sat, I could see the coach's lips moving, but could not hear a single word he was saying while I was sitting in the crowd, most of who were on their feet cheering loudly.  My mom leaned over to me and asked, "Can they even hear what he's saying?!" 

Those boys had gone to practice in a quiet gym every day for the past 2 months, training their ears to hear what their coach had to say.  Spots in their brains had been reserved for the frequency of his voice's sound waves.  They had played in other close games and practiced tuning into his voice amidst the distractions and cheers.  When the time came for them to meet head on in the championship game, they were prepared

We also have times that we can practice listening to our coach - our Heavenly Father.  It may be in church, while we read our scriptures, when we find a quiet time to pray, as we turn the radio off when we drive, or think out loud.  Those are the times we train our ears and hearts to listen to what God has for us - what He needs us to do and where He needs us to be. 

Then we go into the crazy world of carpools and school or work and rushing to and from appointments.  Our ears and hearts can still be in tune for what He needs from us.  If we have practiced tuning in to Him in our quiet places, we can hear and understand our Heavenly Father (our coach) from the sidelines directing us. 

At one point in the championship game, the coach got very upset with a player that was out of position and because of it, they gave up a basket and the lead.  The coach was jumping around and yelling.  My mom leaned over to me again and said, "Is that really necessary?"  Being in positions like this myself in tight scoring games, I told her it was absolutely necessary that he let that boy know where he needed to be exactly when he needed him to be in a particular spot on the floor. 

While I don't picture Heavenly Father frantically jumping around, He does remind us when we are 'out of position.'  He has sent the Holy Ghost to help us decipher those times as a way to get us back on track to where we are supposed to be.  As my mom asked, "Is that really necessary?"  Absolutely!  He needs us!  AND... We are in the last days.  This is when it gets heated.  This is the 'overtime' before the Savior comes.  This is when He saves his best players to be on the floor when the going gets tough.  THIS is what it's all about!  This is what we practice and pray for, to be a part of - not to be sitting the bench for pete's sake! 

In the end (my son pointed out that the ending is the best part and I better not leave it out), our team came out on top... In overtime... By just 2 points... and also earned the Sportsmanship Award for the year.  Ask any of those boys if it was worth all the time, effort, and sacrifice and I know what their answer would be. 

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