It's finally the time of year when I can get excited about college basketball. I know, it's been going on for forever now, but THIS is when it gets fun...because I get to personally get in on the competition. By creating a bracket, I somehow get to share in the victory of the teams that I select to win. Now, I don't place bets with any money behind it, but bragging rights are always a little fun. :)
Now before you start thinking that I don't know anything about basketball, I want to remind you that I'm part of the Grits (Girls Raised In the South). There are a few things we take seriously, and sports is definately one of them. Deborah Ford has written a book (that no southern girl should be without) called The Grits Guide to Life. Jokingly, she has the chapter on sports right after the chapter on relgion, and the title of the chapter is, "Southern Religion, Part II." Check out a story from that chapter from Barbara Dooley, Georgia Grits, that will more than likely make you laugh...but might also make you think.
When you have a lot of children, and we had four, you get worn slap out. By the time the last baby arrives, you just let them do just about whatever they want. We had a rule that our first son, Daniel, could not go to the sidelines with his father, who was the head coach at the University of Georgia at the time, until he was ten years old. Our youngest son, Derek, got this chance a lot sooner.
When Derek was five, Georgia played our biggest in-state rival, Georgia Tech, in Atlanta on Thanksgiving night. We spent Thanksgiving without the coach, then drove to Atlanta for the game. When we got to the game, Derek immediately asked his father if he could sit on the sidelines. Feeling guilty about Thanksgiving, Vince compromised and told him that if we were beating Tech by a large score at the end of the third quarter he could get down on the sidelines. There were two rules: he could not get near the team, and he could not get near Dad! At family prayers, Derek prayed, "...and Jesus please let us be beating Tech by a big enough score that I can get to the sidelines."
At the end of the third quarter, the score was 42-0, and I thought that was a reasonable lead to take him down to the sidelines. By the time we got to the fence, Tech had scored and it was 42-7. By the time I got him over the fence, it was 42-14. By the time I got back to my seat, it was 42-21 and Derek Dooley was pulling on his dad's pants leg.
That night in the hotel, we put the children down in their room and turned out the lights. We went to our adjoining room and Vince turned out the light, I knew, womanly instinct, that something major was about to be said. I just laid there as still as I could, waiting. Finally, he said, "Barbara, the strangest thing happened tonight on the sideline. Tech had the ball going down the field to score and Derek was pulling on my pants leg. I pushed im away, anything to get him to turn loose of my pants leg. Finally, when Tech scored, I looked down and said, "Derek, what do you want?" I was ready for anything except for what he said. He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, "Daddy, don't worry about a thing. Jesus is just having a little fun."
I love that story! I can just picture it...priceless. But seriously, isn't that great wisdom from a 5 year old? No matter what is going on in your life, no matter what your circumstance, you can have faith because Jesus is on your team. Even if it seems like the other team keeps coming at you, He is still in control. Plus, remember that others are watching to see how you handle yourself in hard situations. Do you give in to temptation to act like the world, or do you make an effort to be different and behave like Christ?
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Think about that verse...and the advice from Derek Dooley. Don't let anything get in the way of following Jesus - no drama with your friends, no sin struggle, no family problem. You may not have all the answers to know how to win the game, but He does. So just pull on your Father's pants leg, pray, and let Him be in control. Then just wait for the inevitable highlight film...
P.S. The final four - you heard it here first....Kansas, Florida, Georgetown, and Memphis. Kansas takes it all.