Thursday, May 16, 2013

Celebrate Good Times

You don't have to know a lot about basketball to recognise that the following season statistics are particularly unimpressive:
  • Games Played: 3
  • Average Minutes Per Game: 1.3
  • Field Goals Attempted: 2
  • Field Goals Made: 1
  • Total Career NBA Points: 2
  • Assists: 0
  • Steals: 0
  • Blocks: 0
  • Turnovers: 1
But those statistics don't tell the whole story... or even the beginning of the story. The statistics belong to Chris Wright who played for the Dallas Mavericks for 10 days in March 2013 as they auditioned point guards to replace their injured backup. Wright was a college star at Georgetown and this year made one of the D-League All-Star teams.

What makes Wright's story noteworthy is not his basketball journey, but his personal journey. After missing out in the NBA draft Wright found a job playing in the Turkish professional basketball league. One day at training his foot suddenly gave out! Some time later the Turkish doctors diagnosed him with Multiple Sclerosis.

After returning to the US for treatment Wright decided to continue his basketball dream. He found an opportunity playing with the Maine Redclaws. This ESPN story gives more details of Wright's journey, but the fact that he's playing basketball at any level is remarkable! Yet alone that he had the opportunity to play for an NBA team. Look at this description of the symptoms of MS:
Common symptoms of MS include fatigue, numbness, loss of balance, poor coordination, blurred vision and problems with memory and focus, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which estimates that more than 2.1 million people are affected by the disease. In severe cases, MS can cause paralysis. Wright originally was told by Turkish doctors that his basketball career was finished.
Wright made it to the NBA against all odds.No one knows if his NBA career will continue or if that's as good as it gets. 3 games. 4 minutes. 2 points. An inspiring set of numbers.

I was prompted to write this post not because of Wrights struggle with MS but when I noticed a short sentence in this article:
He got his first NBA bucket on a driving layup with 9.4 seconds left.
After the buzzer, Darren Collison grabbed the ball and passed it to Wright, making sure the rookie would have a keepsake.
“I’ll give it to my mom so I don’t lose it,” Wright said, “and just get back in the gym tomorrow.”
That one score turned out to be his only score but I love that Darren Collison made the effort to give Wright the game ball. I am a big believer that we need to celebrate even the small accomplishments in life. We live in a competitive and glamorous world that consistently tells us that we're not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, organized enough.... So it's important that we celebrate the things we do well. It's important to remind ourselves, our spouses, our children, our church members that they have gifts, abilities, and most of all that we're all valuable to God.

Don't wait for a major achievement in someone's life to recognise them. Praise people every chance you get. They'll feel better and they'll treat you better.

It's not that these celebrations mean we stop trying. I love Wright's response in the quote above. "I'll get back in the gym tomorrow." Celebrate successes, but then keep moving. The two must coexist.

1 Corinthians 12:26 is a favorite verse of mine. It describes the church as a body. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. (The Message) In my experience most churches share the hurt very well. Any time you ask for prayer requests there's no shortage of needs. Most Christians though seem to struggle with part two. We don't enter into each others' exuberance very often. We don't rejoice together as much as we could.

Maybe we don't want to show off. Perhaps we don't want to make those who are hurting feel worse. We might just be private people. But we don't communicate the good news of God in our lives when we're not rejoicing! In fact, one could get the impression that Christians rarely flourish or receive blessings from God if the church prayer list was all we had to go on.

We shouldn't be stingy about handing out basketballs when someone scores a basket. Don't wait for their career to be over.

Coincidentally, I was reminded just yesterday that Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline lists "Celebration" as a spiritual discipline. God wants His people to celebrate! In Hebrews 13:15 we're told "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise."

As a closing thought here's a summary from a study guide to Foster's book,
The Psalmist exclaimed, "Our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy" (Ps. 126:2a). And St. Augustine echoed Scriptures words with the declaration, "A Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot." Celebration is a happy characteristic of those who walk cheerfully over the earth in the power of the Lord. [emphasis added]
As children of God we have plenty to celebrate.

No comments:

Post a Comment