The arena is basically across the street from our home. A ten minute walk gets us there. No problem parking for us; no ten-dollar parking price, either! We live right smack in the middle of our city; we can walk anywhere we’d like to go. It is amazing how our city resort town grew up around us; it’s still growing! “Yeah, that Greenville!” is its slogan! Our hometown is a city with a slogan, and many write-ups in Southern Living; we are a destination; we have arrived!
My husband’s college alma mater is playing in the ladies basketball tournament this week. We rarely if ever attend sports events. We rarely if ever frequent the arena. I don’t know why; it is what it is. But he mentioned the ladies playing and I immediately said, “Let’s Go!” We got tickets to the first game; deciding we’d follow our team each time they advanced. After two wins, we are now in the championship game. Today will tell the tale. We’ll be there!
Along the way we’ve experienced lots of smiling faces, enthusiastic crowds, people willing to share their story, and one of my favorite sports, people watching! At half-time and in between games, there is plenty to do and eat. We’ve dined on barbecue sandwiches, funnel cakes, giant soft pretzels, and waffle cones of smooth soft ice cream. We’ve shot baskets in those thingys that allow you to shoot from a distance of maybe ten feet with smaller basketballs with smaller rope hoops. One handed we shot basket after basket in competition with ourselves and each other.
The opening ceremonies start with the showing of our colors, the United States Flag, our State Flag, and two other flags I didn’t recognize; probably they represented basketball or the SEC tournament. The first day an all white-haired choir sang the National Anthem. We remarked at having a choir sing was nice. Last night, a group of about fifteen four and five-year old children sang on and off-key our anthem with the unabashed enthusiasm that only children do so well. The crowd was united in their pride; touched by childish innocence. I turned my delighted eyes towards my husband to see tears in his eyes. He is a gentle soul; I love him.
The only happening that took my breath away were a small group of zealots shouting through a bull horn warnings of hell and damnation towards all of us waiting patiently in line to be admitted. The lady in front of me turned to look back. Her shocked face made me turn as well; the other side of the sign in huge vivid red letters were the words, “Sports Idolators Will Go to Hell!” I gasped in disbelief. How could they judge others so openly; how dare they presume what was in our collective hearts? Surely this was not God-inspired. Dear Lord, I refuse to believe anything we were a part of rated eternal damnation. You, Heavenly Father, want joy, love, peace, and freedom for your children. This I do believe. I can’t change the minds of those who would spew such hate. I can pray they will find love for their neighbor; I can pray Your peace will calm their hearts; I can pray clouded and mis-guided thinking will enter their minds, their souls. I also pray the couple of pre-teen boys that were trying to pass out tracts, will forgive their parents for putting them in that position, influencing their young minds against Your Word.
Thank You, Heavenly Father, that though my family’s dysfunction can stand up to other family dysfunctions, I was brought up in the church of love, peace, tolerance, and quiet living by example-our creed. Amen
PS: Might I put in a good word for the girls of both teams playing today for their safety during play, and their love of competing, sharing their talents with others.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 The Message
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
1 Timothy 4:12 The Message
You are young, but do not let anyone treat you as if you were not important. Be an example to show the believers how they should live. Show them with your words, with the way you live, with your love, with your faith, and with your pure life.
Hebrews 12:11-13 The Living Bible
Being punished isn’t enjoyable while it is happening—it hurts! But afterwards we can see the result, a quiet growth in grace and character.
So take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs, and mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet so that those who follow you, though weak and lame, will not fall and hurt themselves but become strong.