This evening I had the joy of watching a seventh grade basketball game. Most of you know that “people watching” is a mild form of amusement for me. So I make it my regular practice to watch the teams play when I drive their bus to sporting events. This particular game was both comedic and instructive.
To begin, these guys played their hearts out. They were diving after loose balls, sprinting down the court, jumping after rebounds, setting picks, and batting down passes.
The comedy was in the clumsiness of it all.
A sudden stumble for no reason other than a size 13 shoe on a 5′ 6” frame. An errant pass. A dropped pass. Air balls. Running into teammates. Tripping over opponents. Bodies flailing everywhere. And missing wide open shots in awkward form.
I took all this in, laughing quietly to myself and thinking, “What a demonstration of uncoordinated effort!”
Coordination. Watching these guys get one floor burn after another reminded me that basketball requires a great deal of it! For a single successful shot, arms and legs and hands must all move in fluid synchronized motion. On defense, the head and back and feet must all be in proper alignment to effectively guard the opponent. If any one of those appendages fail, the whole game suffers.
The instruction was an important life lesson.
Life, like basketball, requires a coordinated effort. It’s a coordination of the mind, body, and soul, or the mental, physical, and spiritual. Deuteronomy 6:4 says we’re to love God with all three. Jesus repeats the matter in Matthew 22:37.
The idea is that every part of our being needs to be one, synchronized, coordinated act of faithful obedience. Our whole life’s aim is to be directed toward the single goal of fulfilling God’s purposes. It’s an “all in” proposition.
Life can get pretty clumsy when these aspects of our being fail to work in coordination.
Consider the mind. Spend too much time developing it and you risk creating geniuses without a moral compass. Theodore Roosevelt once said,
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
Sadly, history has proven him right.
Consider the body. Spend too much effort exercising it apart from a proper development of an emotionally whole soul and you get athletic superstars who cheat their way to victory. How many athletes use their sport to fill unmet emotional needs? (Unfortunately, I believe this was the case for Lance Armstrong.)
Even an inordinate focus on the soul without a proper development of the mind opens us to all sorts of false ideas about reality.
So a healthy, vibrant life requires a coordination of the mind, body, and soul. Each are inseparably interconnected and must aim for the same goal. That’s successful living! But a failure in this regard results in clumsy living.
So what does you life resemble? Are you like a clumsy middle school boy trying to play basketball? Or does your life more resemble the seasoned high school varsity starter.
I’m thankful for such simple reminders from these 7th grade basketball hopefuls. I pray that I never lose their tenacity or zeal. But I also pray that my life will not look nearly as uncoordinated and clumsy as their performance showed this evening!
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