Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
The sky is still black with uncertainty and expectancy of all that this the day will bring. So clear and black, that it seems as though you could almost reach into it to touch one of the stars which light up the darkness.
That thought lingered as a challenge for just a moment while my daughter-in-law’s words from years ago drifted back into my consciousness as I watched the NCAA Basketball Championships selection show last night—
“Do they do this every year?”
When Nathan and Amy were first married, Amy had a steep learning curve on a fast track in sports requiring that she graduate from being a sports’ novice. She had a ways to go. Actually, she was once heard to ask her husband-to-be (Nathan) at a football game why the teams kept punting the football away every few downs instead of just keeping the ball.
Her words—“Do they do this every year”—now captive in my thoughts again this morning, reflected the excitement she felt years ago as she watched someone achieving beyond their expectations and all the way to the end of their reach.
“Do they do this every year?”
It happened when our then brand new, wide-eyed, eager to experience every moment in life, champion of the underdog and the underprivileged, daughter-in-law Amy, caught her first glimpse, through Nathan, of the NCAA’s March Madness. That annual spring pilgrimage where college basketball players—talented kids living a moment few get—from every walk of life, and suburb, street corner, disadvantage, and opportunity, representing sixty-eight of the very best collegiate basketball teams across the country, reach for that one magical moment they have dreamed of in all the pickup games they have ever played on all the basketball courts, driveways and backyards they could find as they were growing up.
Amy and our son Nathan had just watched their first game in their first March Madness moment as newlyweds—a first round triple overtime thriller in 1995 between the favorite number three-seeded Wildcats of Villanova University and the upstart fourteenth seeded Monarchs of Old Dominion.
Unbelievably, Old Dominion won 89-81 and ignited anew a brushfire of hope that flickered in the hearts of all of us of any age who ever had a dream. A brushfire that causes us to reach again, to give it a chance, to try one more time, to reach for the unreachable, and to get up and get back into life. It was a moment that was also a fitting beginning for their marriage and their journey together into eternity.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you and I, and every child everywhere, of every age everywhere, could have such moments—again and again in our lives? Moments that cause us to reach beyond where we thought we could reach—out into the darkness of uncertainty—for all we were meant to be. The Apostle Paul tells us, in the scripture above, that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can, with Him. But maybe there are some out there who don’t know that and who may need a lift up first to meet Him.
Ever wondered why there are some kids living in poverty, abused, disenfranchised and disconnected from some of the opportunities available to the rest of the world? Ever wonder why there are homeless families, soup kitchens, and not enough medical clinics for the needy? Ever wonder why some kids do poorly in school, and are forever labeled as underachievers, developmentally handicapped or slow?
That was not the intention of the God who created them, when He created them, and entrusted them to parents, family, friends, and dare I say—to the rest of us.
Reflect with me for a moment about the “children of all ages” whose dreams often are snuffed out at an early age through no fault of their own, or the man or woman in the middle of life for whom the wind has seemed to go out of their sails, or the elderly who sit all alone with only their memories to get them through the day. They are all dreamers—like you and like me—who may need a lift up to help them to see the sunshine just beyond the rainbow and a spark of encouragement to rekindle that desire to reach again and again for that one shining star in the darkness—and perhaps that one shining moment where a dream is finally fulfilled. And in that moment when they reach for their dream, whether they’re successful or not, they come closer to becoming the person God created them to be.
They, like us, can find encouragement to reach for those dreams and hopes from those words of Paul in the book of Philippians set out above. But very often they need to find it first from someone like us who reaches down to help them reach up. Often then need a moment of our lives to remind them that they were created for extraordinary things by a God who loves them. Often they need a helping hand, a bit of applause as they try, and someone to lift them up again if they fall. And along with all of that, they may just need someone to introduce them to the Christ who has loved them all along the way and stands ready to walk with them as they reach for all they can be.
Yes, Amy, as you now know, they do this every year. NCAA’s March Madness. Sixty-eight teams, with one eventual National Champion, and an incalculable number of magical moments that will last a lifetime for those who participate, and for those of us who cheer them on.
And perhaps, just perhaps, there will be moments that will serve to inspire each of us to reach, and keep reaching, for all He intended for us to be—for ourselves, and for dreamers of all ages everywhere.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2012. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.