It’s great news that the Men’s Basketball team from Stephen F Austin State University has not only captured the Southland Conference title, but is also playing in the first round of the NCAA tournament! Just playing in March Madness is a testament to the talent and hard work of players, coaches, and supporters who hope to beat 5th-ranked VCU this Friday at 6:27 pm.
College hoops legend Bob Knight is a controversial figure, but his rigorous team development won championships. He says, “Most people have the will to win; few people have the will to prepare to win.” Getting into the tournament is hard enough, but being crowned the champion? It’s more than just expressing a desire or even exerting the will to win. A similarly controversial apostle named Paul wrote about that dedication to preparation to the church at Corinth, proving that sports analogies in sermons have always been popular:
Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-5, CEB)
In the middle of “March Madness,” we are preparing not for a trophy but the joy of Easter salvation. As Lent enters its third week, even if your self-discipline is beginning to strain and crack, may you be sustained by the will to prepare, keeping you focused on following Jesus …and go Jacks!