When I began coaching our basketball team this season, I was excited about a couple of the new players we had. One of them, a 6’3” junior, had never played basketball before. Needless to say, I began to imagine all that our team can do with a young man of that size.
During the first week of practice, the boys were talking about dunking the basketball while they were shooting around. I asked the team, “Who here would like to know how if feels to dunk a basketball?” Of course everyone raised their hands. Then I asked, “How many would like to commit to working on learning to dunk a basketball?” Only two raised their hands. I told them that if they worked on the exercises I provide for them, they’ll be dunking by the end of the season.
One of the players that committed had to withdraw from the team for medical reasons. So I was left with my 6’3” project!
Throughout practice, this young man displayed great resolve and commitment. Even through some very difficult and very painful drills, he chose not to quit. There were times I was sure he wanted to give up but he willed himself to take the next step, then the next, then the next. What made me respect this player more was that sometimes after a hard practice, he would go home and workout some more.
So after practice last Thursday, as we were waiting for parents to arrive, this young man just started jumping for the rim. I saw how much of the rim he was grabbing when I told him, “You’re ready for your first dunk.” I had another player grab an orange from a tree. I placed that orange in his hand and told him to dunk it. He did! He went to the ball cage and grabbed a small basketball. He dunked it again! Over and over for the next twenty minutes he would dunk, smile, stretch, and dunk again. He was so happy to accomplish a personal goal he had set for himself athletically. I was proud of him, too!
Then I began to think, how often we set goals that will have nothing to do with eternity. I am not belittling the hard work and dedication this young man possessed. But can you imagine if Christians dedicated themselves to spiritual matters as much (and if not, more so) as they do the physical aspects of life. Make no mistake, biblical principles were exercised to accomplish the goal and they will be lessons that will benefit him for the rest of his life. But what about working that hard (and not quitting) in our Bible reading, our prayer life, our soul winning, our service, our stewardship, our relationships, and other similar spiritual areas?
Someday, this young man will be old and his dunking days will be over. But the Scripture he reads and souls he wins to the Lord will last for all eternity!