"And we know that all things work together for good for them that love Christ, for them that are called according to His purpose. "
Bandwagon fans irritate me. Can't stand 'em. Indeed, I take sports loyalties to the opposite extreme ... if there's a dominant team that everyone loves, you can bet I'll take sides with their rival, if only out of spite.
So it was that in the early 1990s, when the NBA was at the height of its popularity (and it's coming back to that point, I'm happy to say, with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and a new crop of superstars ... but I digress) I took up with the New York Knicks. I'd never really had a favorite NBA team until the Knicks were absolutely tortured throughout the 90s by a certain Chicago Bull name of Michael Jordan.
Some of MJ's luster has come off in recent years, what with his penchant for high stakes gambling, stints as a mediocre GM and, of course, his most recent -- and regrettable -- comeback.
But the singular fact remains: when Jordan was at his best, it was a wonder to behold. And this is coming from a Knicks fan, mind you. So it has to be true.
As such, I have a rather keen perspective on Jordan's magic. In short, it was incredible. It got to the point that no matter how many times he shot -- and it was a lot, mind you -- you always thought it was going in. Really. If you never saw him play in his prime it's hard to understand this.
OK, you know how it's a surprise when Tiger Woods doesn't win a Major? That was the way it was when Jordan took a shot. If it didn't go in, you were, frankly, shocked.
That sort of reputation isn't built overnight. It's borne out night after night, game after game.
Here's the spiritual insight: my wife had a rough go of it recently. I won't go into detail, but she was worried about how things were going to turn out for her and, by extension, our family. She had a hard time relying on the faith that God would, invariably, take care of everything.
Now, there are a lot of aspects of my Christian life with which I struggle. But faith is not one of them. I'm pretty strong that way -- I absolutely know, without a shadow of a doubt, that in each life event God will engineer the circumstances that will A) turn out for the best, and B) bring Him glory.
So after everything worked out (surprise, surprise) my wife asked me why I had that kind of faith (and, again, this isn't a "hey everyone, look at how great I am" kind of post. I promise you, I struggle with things that no mature Christian should ... it's just that faith isn't one of them). And I told her about Michael Jordan.
See, if you were a Bulls fan and the game was tied with three seconds left and MJ had the ball, you weren't exactly chewing on your fingernails. Any butterflies you might have had were the kind that only come with the anticipation of pure bliss. Such was Jordan's abilities.
Of course, there were times that Jordan missed, after all. He didn't make every shot. Remember those last two seasons with the Washington Wizards?
If you are a Christian, you can have the kind of assurance that, no matter how the chips are down, Jesus is gonna hit that buzzer beater. Every time.
So, does it feel like your life is in the fourth quarter, that you're down by two with three seconds left?
It's real simple, folks. Just call a timeout, look down that bench and put Jesus in the game.
Trust me, he's got a heck of a jump shot.
(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner, all rights under copyright reserved)