Nick Young thought he nailed it but missed the mark.
Those that know me know that I’m a basketball junkee. Since I’ve been on a health and fitness journey for over 8 months now I’ve used my love of basketball as an incentive to get my butt into shape. My weight loss journey started in July by simply moving more and eating less. It’s a simple plan I hear preached all the time by my uncle Chet and it has worked great. When the temperature outside dropped as winter neared I had to deal with an obstacle to my walking and jogging routine so I decided to join a fitness center and move my work indoors. The biggest perk of this change has been my access to a basketball court. Every time I go to the fitness center I face the temptation to skip my cardio workout and weight workout so I can simply shoot around or play in some pick-up games. Because I love playing I’ve turned it into my reward for doing the work I need to do. If I do the work I need to do then I get to do the thing I love to do. On the mornings that I leave work and want to go home and crawl into bed it is basketball that gets me to stop by the fitness center and burn more calories.
A couple of weeks ago I was shooting around with some guys at church when something very common in the basketball world happened. As we were finishing up, pastor Brandon wanted to ‘finish on a make’. I don’t know when this shooting concept started but it is something that predates me because I definitely remember as a 7th grader being told by a coach at practice to ‘finish on a make’. Basically you want to make your last shot of practice. I’m not sure if it’s something superstitious or if it is supposed to be about leaving on a positive note but it’s something reinforced with basketball regulars.
It was in this moment at the church gym that I let pastor Brandon and the other guys with us know that I had been doing something particularly odd. Since joining the fitness center and getting quality basketball practice time I had been finishing my practices on a miss. If I’m shooting free throws to end my morning, I leave after a miss. If I’m practicing a dribble move into a jumpshot to end my practice, I finish on a miss. I received some confused looks from the guys when I told them my new routine because it is counter cultural in a basketball sense. So why do I end on a miss instead of a make? Because for me it is a reminder that there’s still more work to do. There’s still room for improvement and the only way for me to improve is for me to get back out onto the court and keep practicing. Finishing on a ‘make’ lends itself to the attitude of ‘I’ve got this’. ‘Nailed it!’ Why would someone with that attitude need to come back the next day to practice? Finishing on a ‘miss’, however, is a lesson in humility. It is a very real reminder that even though this particular practice session is finished, my abilities as a basketball player are not, and judging by that last ‘miss’ I should be back as soon as possible to work on my game. While missing a shot can seem negative on the surface, it can be in many ways a motivational tool for future success.
This leads me to the topic of repentance and the Christian life. Repentance is, or at least should be, woven into the fabric of a believers spiritual life. The aim of a believer is to look more and more like Christ and repentance is about when we miss that mark. In the court of life you have numerous opportunities to look like Jesus. On which of those daily opportunities did you ‘nail it’? How many of those opportunities were a ‘brick’ that were nowhere close to looking like Jesus? Maybe instead of trying and failing, or trying and succeeding, you didn’t even try at all. Perhaps instead of taking a shot you passed on the opportunity altogether. When it comes to looking like Jesus there is always room for improvement. There’s always more work to be done. Another day has another set of challenges.
What I want to suggest is that you, as a person desiring to look more and more like Christ, should end your day remembering a ‘miss’. As your head hits the pillow say a prayer of repentance. Not because of the children’s prayer ‘If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take’ but because a prayer of repentance at the end of the day can set your course for tomorrow. The Spirit isn’t done shaping you into Christlikeness. You aren’t done growing. That’s the whole point of this blog!
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
This blog is how I work through the ways in which God is stretching me because He’s not done with me yet and repentance is a part of that growing process. The fact of the matter is that as I try to imitate a guy that so sacrificially loved others that he allowed himself to be nailed to a cross on their behalf, I most definitely haven’t ‘nailed it’. If anyone needs to grow in grace it’s me, and I’m not going to grow if I walk into each day arrogantly remembering only my ‘makes’. Remembering the ways in which I missed the mark reminds me of my need for the work of the Spirit. Perhaps today needs to start with an “I’m sorry.” to someone you wronged yesterday. Perhaps you passed on the opportunity to be an agent of peace in the workplace yesterday but a new opportunity is on your doorstep today. I don’t know what yesterday was like for you but I’m certain it wasn’t all ‘makes’. And that’s alright. Don’t beat yourself up over it but also don’t deny that you could have done better. You could have had more grace. You could have had more patience. You could have listened more. Remember your ‘misses’ and lean in to the work of the Spirit as you grow in Christlikeness. It’s an odd way to end your day but it just may be what you need to change how you go into your tomorrow! Grace and peace!