One day my high school basketball coach asks me if I am left-handed.
He probably knows the answer. Although centers are not the greatest of ball-handlers, I think he wonders why I always drop the ball to my left. Most right-handed people don’t start out dribbling on their weakest side.
So I explain.
I started playing basketball in the fourth grade and was already head-and-shoulders taller than my teammates and opponents. But, I wasn’t a particularly aggressive player. Then, my family moved to St. Louis. I lost precious court and team time for two seasons. But, Dad put a hoop off our driveway like the one we had had back in Minnesota. He helped me set up a routine. He also showed me how to shoot from either side with the inside hand, the one closest to the basket and farthest from my opponent. The idea was it would give me a unique strategy to off-set any disadvantages.
The coach tells me to quit shooting with my left hand. It isn’t necessarily making me a better ball-handler either.
I know what the real problems are. So does the coach, although he doesn’t quite say it.
I can’t make up for that lost time. We try sometimes to reset the game time when plays don’t go our way or someone forgets to stop or start the clock. That doesn’t mean time isn’t passing by while we figure out how to correct what went wrong or argue a call or come up with a different strategy. Think of every cliche for time, and the answer is the same. We cannot control this thing that doesn’t actually exist, but that seems to control every aspect of our lives.
I might make the team, but that doesn’t mean I’m accepted. I can be the top rebounder in the summer leagues and continue my shooting routine. My cross-country training can help me outrun my teammates and opponents up and down the court. Still, when teammates argue about who won’t be sitting at the end of the bench, it make senses to tell them to move down. It makes sense to choose that seat for myself.
It makes sense to keep doing what my dad taught me to do. By now, it is a practice-made habit. Protecting my shot makes sense. Dropping the ball to dribble left makes sense, too. More often than not, it throws my opponents toward the weaker side, which makes my cross-over stronger.
Yet, eventually, it makes sense to stop playing this game and start taking singing lessons.
I discover, however, it makes sense to apply my basketball knowledge to other games. Weak or strong, I can still shoot from either side with my inside hand. It isn’t always about protecting my own shots. Sometimes it is about protecting and rebounding my teammates shots. Sometimes it is all about which end of the bench I choose. By now, it is a practice-made habit.
Because I have already made this team and have been accepted. Because no time is truly lost since God controls the game clock. Because I know my Coach has given me a unique strategy to off-set any disadvantages. Because it simply makes sense to keep doing what My Abba teaches me to do, especially those singing lessons. It throws my opponent off every time.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
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