But, I digress (27 years ago to be exact). With five minutes left in an Arkansas Razorback basketball game, I am in the sideline huddle in an incredibly intense moment. Conference standings and an NCAA tournament bid hangs in the balance. Our opponent was giving us the all we wanted on our home court. We had known it would be a knock down drag out. Now it was time to see who would give the knock down and who would be drug out. The crowd was edgy and anxious.
The student managers passed out water, and dry towels, team mates handed out high fives and assertions. “Don’t hold anything back! Leave it all on the floor!” Then, the court general, Future Hall of Famer Coach Eddie Sutton pushed his way through the throng of players. He took a quick knee, passed out the last couple of bottles of water and …and said, “relax, relax, if you do what I tell you, you’re gonna win the ballgame.” An easy confident grin, spread across a face that usually displayed a serious, upside down smile, honed by years of a stellar career as a statesman of the sideline, scowling at referees, shouting commands and making minute adjustments as he managed the game like a jockey on the home stretch of the Kentucky Derby.
Coach Sutton suddenly sprung up and was immediately surrounded by assistant coaches, each one giving him a piece of the strategic plan that would lead to an already declared victory. He quickly processed the foul situation for both teams, who was hot and who was not, the time clock, our repertoire of offensive and defensive plays and what our opponent was likely to do in the remaining minutes of the game. He seemed to always know that to say.
Then the smile quickly faded away from his face and was replaced by a focused and intense presence that captivated everyone’s attention.
I had been in hundreds of sideline huddles, but this time was different, Coach told us in no uncertain words if we did what he said we would win the ballgame! He didn’t say it often, but I never heard him say it when we didn’t win if we executed what he laid out for us. The buzzer signaled the end of the timeout. 16 sets of hands formed a knot of solidarity … it was game time…
Back to our current reality: It would be nice if life were that simple. The social, economic, and spiritual challenges of our day are formidable. However, I believe that God wants our city to be a city of Salt and Light ”. Only the creator of a thing knows its true purpose and potential. True with toasters and Blu ray players, true for the creator of our own souls. I believe that the real key for life transformation is in Christ alone.
Our team believed we would succeed because we had a leader with a track record of success. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Yes, we did win that ballgame and so will our community as we live our lives in humility, love and service to the one in who we “believe”, because He has the plan. Do you believe it?
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