UPWARD BASKETBALL AWARDS CEREMONY
SHARE THE GOOD NEWS
Last Friday evening, I was able to share the good news with parents and players at the Upward Sports Awards Night. I spent time sharing three separate, but related stories, praying that people would hear the good news and find the invitation to turn from their old ways, get up out of their chairs and follow Jesus.
The first story I shared was about The Games we play. From sports like basketball and baseball, through board games and video games, I told the story of getting our emotions wrapped up in the outcomes of these games that probably aren’t as important as the weight that we feel in them. As we grow older, a similar weight of importance is given to the game of being cool and accepted as an adolescent, which for me (and typically for others as well) led to a whole new game that I like to call “Don’t Get Caught.” This game included doing more and more things that were over the line of what I was comfortable with morally while staying close enough to the line that I could justify the gamble. The problem was that the line kept moving, and even though I was making compromises with the hope of gaining acceptance, my feeling of acceptance seemed to be leaking faster than I could fill it. Eventually I realized that winning the game of “Don’t Get Caught” meant that I was losing a different, much more important game, called Life.
The second story I told was about my experience with The Spillway. We all had different experiences that Sunday afternoon, but the moral of this story was that though life may feel like a game that we win or lose with a million little triumphs or defeats, there are times like that Sunday when the evacuation took place that life doesn’t feel like a game. It becomes very serious and very focused. For me, hearing my 8 year old daughter Bella begin to cry because she legitimately understood that we could lose everything, I found sharp focus. In this moment, I also questioned all sorts of things that God has graced me with, but I will continue to doubt from time to time. For instance: Am i a good father? Do i pay enough attention to my kids and my wife or am i too self-centered? Who am I to raise these kids, with everything i’ve done in my life? What if i’m not as good at love as i want to be? do my kids feel lonely? Can I fix this? What if I can’t fix this? What is the goal? What is the finish line? What race am i running?
And the third story that I told was about Jesus choosing Matthew. I talked about how crazy it was that Jesus would pick a tax collector. And equally how crazy, how a tax collector would get up out of his chair to follow Jesus when the only words spoken to him were “Follow me.” In Matthew’s telling of this story in Matthew 9, Jesus ends up eating with Matthew at Matthew’s house with all these other tax collectors and sinners. We talked about how Jesus was pushing the boundaries on what it meant to love people and how significant it was that he would eat with them. In that culture, eating with people meant that there was nothing wrong between you. But the most significant point of the story is that Jesus announces to the questioning Pharisees that it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. This can be a very insulting statement. But to someone who knows they are sick, it is the best news to find out that there is a doctor that sees them and wants to help them.
I concluded the evening with an invitation for everyone who felt like they were the sick person that Jesus was noticing tonight, that Jesus was calling them out of their old life to go and follow him. I asked them to stand up out of their seats and pray, confessing that they are sinners that believe in Jesus, that he came to die for the forgiveness of their sins, and that he could heal them. Many people stood up to receive Jesus in both sessions. It was a remarkable evening of celebrating the end of the Upward season and seeing many people make that jump into a life with Jesus Christ as their Lord, their Savior, and their King.
By Kurt Libby